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Med Sci (Paris). 2008 May;24(5):499-504. doi: 10.1051/medsci/2008245499.

[Male circumcision: hope for HIV infection decrease in southern Africa].

[Article in French]

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Unité d'épidémiologie, Hôpital Ambroise Paré, 9, avenue du Général De Gaulle, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt, France.


Given the magnitude of the HIV pandemic, development of new prevention means is necessary. Male circumcision reduces HIV transmission from female to male by 57 % [95 % Confident Interval (CI): 42-68 %]. Its generalization in sub-Saharan Africa could avert, among men and women, from 1 to 4 millions new HIV infections over the next ten years. Acceptability of this new prevention mean is high in countries which could benefit the most from male circumcision, that means located in southern Africa, a region where in majority men are uncircumcised and where HIV prevalence is high. Male circumcision is a cost-effective prevention strategy. Actual prevention means (condoms, sexual abstinence and fidelity) are not used enough to curb the HIV epidemic. Research is ongoing on other prevention means (vaccine, pre- and post-exposition prophylaxis, microbicides, diaphragm) but their efficiency has not been demonstrated yet. Nevertheless, generalization of circumcision in southern Africa is responsible for contestations in part due to the fact that this prevention mean protects only partially from HIV infection. Moreover, for now, only a few countries integrated circumcision in their HIV prevention program in spite of WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations supporting male circumcision acknowledgement as an additional, important strategy for the prevention of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men. Significant available funding should allow the situation to evolve quickly. At the same time, research goes on in order to know more about the effects and to facilitate the generalization of this prevention mean which is a great hope for southern Africa.

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