The Final Cut: Male Circumcision and HIV

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HIV rates remain high in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that’s home to 22 million people with HIV—two-thirds of the world’s HIV-positive population. But there’s cause for hope: Awareness is finally spreading about the potential benefits of male circumcision, which may help protect against the virus.

The next challenge is to mobilize resources. Science News (Jan. 3, 2009) reports that, despite increased awareness of the procedure’s benefits and boosted funding from international organizations, “African governments have been slow to promote circumcision as a public health measure and to mobilize resources.” Circumcision remains an expensive procedure; without government support, it is not widely available.

Regional leaders should consider taking cues from Swaziland and Botswana, whose governments have set up weekend clinics and promotional campaigns, respectively.