Circumcision in Africa not preventing HIV

On Tuesday of last week the Standard Digital News of Kenya reported that the prevalence of HIV AIDS was rising in its central provinces despite the aggressive campaign to circumcise men of sexually active age in that country.

According to the Kenya Aids Indicative Survey released by the Health Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia, HIV and Aids rose in Nyanza and Central provinces. But central provences 3.8 per cent prevalence increase from the previous 3.6 per cent is a mere fraction of Nyanza’s 15.1 per cent up from 2007’s 14.9 per cent. Nyanza’s prevalence is big enough to double the national average prevalence. Clearly, the massive circumcision campaign is doing nothing to stem the epidemic in that country, the same country that hosted one of the famed Orange Farm studies that claimed getting circumcised reduces your risk of contracting HIV by 60%.

Even more disturbing are the reports that compensatory behavior is occurring among women when it comes to circumcised men.  As the SDN reports:

“According to Ruth Achieng, a 22-year-old accounts student in Kisumu, many of her “peers today prefer circumcised men because they are perceived to be safe and HIV-free.”

As a result, the tendency not to use a condom during sexual intercourse is high.”

Supporters of the circumcision campaign were quick to react:

“Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Programme Manager at the National Aids Control Council, Dr Athanasius Ochieng’, is quick to allay the fears.

“The 2001 and 2013 figures are statistically the same and is proof that male circumcision has actually stabilized prevalence by preventing new infections,” says Dr Ochieng.”

Dr. Athanasius fails to note here that the circumcision campaign did not start in earnest until the past several years, and this means that, in fact, circumcision is doing nothing to stop the spread of HIV AIDS.

It is important to point out that at no time has there ever been a follow up study of men who were actually circumcised.  All studies only track the over all prevalence of HIV in the population and not the men who have actually gotten circumcised.



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