What has Male Circumcision got to do with HIV?

…Litigating Male Circumcision

This Article was featured in our #HIV/AIDS edition of HALA Magazine. FREE Download here!

MALE CIRCUMCISION (Accused) vs. HIV (Prosecutor)

The Charge: HIV has accused circumcision of deceiving the public by falsely claiming it has the ability to reduce HIV’s transmission rate.
Defendant’s plea: Not Guilty.
 Argument by the council for the defense: Did my client (circumcision) claim to have this ability as stated in the charge? Emphatically YES. As far as the law is concerned, making such claims is not a crime if they are not false as the prosecuting council has speedily concluded.

We are therefore set to provide sufficient evidence to prove that those claims are not only true but valid.

Litigating male circumcision- HIV

Exhibit- This parchment outlines the following substantial information:

A trial investigation carried out in some parts of Africa some years back had to be stopped abruptly long before the end of the stipulated trial period for ethical reasons. This was because there was already overwhelming evidence that the circumcised had approximately 50% reduced risk of hetero- transmitted HIV in men.

The result was so striking that Sten Vemund (Director of the Institute of Global Health at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville) stated “this was the largest protective effect ever seen next to condom use”.

Based on this existing evidence, mathematical models have predicted that one new HIV infection could be averted for every 5 – 15 men who got newly circumcised. Calculations have also suggested that about 6 million new HIV infections and 3 million deaths could be prevented in 20 years if all men in sub-Saharan Africa became circumcised.

NOTE WORTHY is the fact that circumcision has not claimed that it can entirely prevent HIV transmission but rather, reduces it. We have therefore presented evidence to validate this claim within this context.

Any objections from the prosecuting counsel? “Ehm… well… mm… none my lord”.
The Verdict: After close scrutiny of the evidence presented by the defense counsel and an absence of any objections or even a cross examination by the prosecuting counsel, the jury finds circumcision in this case: NOT GUILTY!
Judgement: Circumcision is freed from the accusations and the general public is hereby advised to seriously consider the joint recommendations of the WHO & UNAIDS with regards to this matter.

Male Circumcision: Getting cut vs. Staying Uncut

How does male circumcision relate with HIV? Male circumcision is basically removing the fore skin, a loose fold of skin that covers the head of the penis. But the foreskin has two notable peculiarities:

  1. The foreskin is very thin with reduced keratin protective layer therefore it easily gets small tears during sex.
  2. Immune cells which are the primary targets for HIV transmission are richly concentrated near the surface of the foreskin. These usually serve as reservoirs for replicating the virus and also help transport the virus to nearby lymph nodes from where they can spread to the other immune cells of the body.

Research has shown sufficient evidence of the usefulness in male circumcision as an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention. The World Health Organization (WHO) now promotes male circumcision as an additional important strategy for the prevention of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men. As with every other medical procedure, male circumcision should be done by well-trained health personnel in well-equipped settings.

Protection conferred by circumcision is incomplete and men must still use other preventive methods (e.g. Condoms or better still, Abstinence).

Newly circumcised men should abstain from sex for at least six weeks to allow for adequate healing. Sex within this period puts the individual at an even higher risk of being infected.



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