US urges circumcision for soldiers to fight HIV in Africa

May 7, 2012

Male circumcision is the best way to prevent new HIV infections in the military, the head of US anti-AIDS efforts told a gathering of top army brass from Africa, Eastern Europe and central Asia.

"We believe is a highly significant, lifetime intervention. It is a gift that keeps on giving. It makes a lot of sense to put extraordinary resources into it," US global AIDS coordinator Eric Goosby told the 400 delegates.

The meeting on AIDS and the military gathered officials from 80 countries, including most of Africa but also countries from Surinam to Georgia and Estonia.

Studies show that can dramatically reduce HIV infections. One study in South Africa last year found new infections fell by 76 percent after a circumcision programme was launched in a township.

In 2006, trials in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa found foreskin removal more than halved men's risk of . Longer-term analysis has found the benefit to be even greater than thought, with a risk reduction of around 60 percent.

The United States is sponsoring programmes in several with a goal of circumcising four million men by 2013.

Results so far are patchy. Although Kenya is close to reaching its target of 80 percent of sexually active men, Uganda has achieved less than five percent of its target.

"We need the military to take up some of these circumcisions," said Caroline Ryan of the US Global AIDS Coordinator's Office.

One issue she said, is that the surgery requires soldiers to recuperate for two to four days, meaning time off from the army.

Another concern, raised by South Africa, was how to marry traditional coming-of-age rites with the need for circumcisions to be carried out under surgical conditions.

"Traditional circumcision is part of the path to manhood. For us it is critical to be given strategies to deal with their concerns," South African Brigadier General Snowy Moremi.

Little data exists on HIV rates among soldiers. Few countries are willing to divulge statistics, fearing they will be perceived as weak.

Explore further: AIDS: New evidence backs circumcision campaign

Related Stories

AIDS: New evidence backs circumcision campaign

July 20, 2011

A campaign to encourage African men to get circumcised to prevent infection by HIV gained a powerful boost Wednesday by three new studies unveiled at the world AIDS forum in Rome.

Recommended for you

HIV vaccine design should adapt as HIV virus mutates

May 16, 2016

Human immunodeficiency virus is known to be a highly variable virus that adapts to a person's immune response during the lifetime infection, and a new study published in Nature Medicine shows that viral adaptation in HIV ...

Study discovers new HIV vaccine target

May 12, 2016

A team led by scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reported a research trifecta. They discovered a new vulnerable site on HIV for a vaccine to target, a broadly neutralizing antibody that binds to that ...

Researchers find alternative pathways to HIV antibodies

May 4, 2016

The immune system appears to hamper an investigational vaccine from inducing antibodies that protect against HIV infection, but there may be ways to overcome this impediment, according to research led by the Duke Human Vaccine ...

Fireflies light the way to female HIV transmission

April 27, 2016

Finding the vulnerable points where HIV enters the female reproductive tract is like searching for needles in a haystack. But Northwestern Medicine scientists have solved that challenge by creating a glowing map of the very ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.