FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2018

UNAIDS praises WHO pre-qualification of device to prevent HIV transmission

The Joint U.N. program on HIV/AIDS welcomed a recent announcement by the World Health Organization on Friday that pre-qualified a non-surgical device for the purpose of adult male circumcision for HIV prevention.

PrePex is a non-surgical device that does not require suturing or injectable anesthesia that can be used for male circumcision by trained physicians and mid-level providers. Studies previously showed evidence that medical male circumcision can reduce sexual transmission of HIV from women to men by 60 percent.

"This kind of innovation that may contribute to improving efficiency, access, and safety, while increasing demand for voluntary medical male circumcision is very welcome," Michel Sidibé, the executive director of UNAIDS, said. "It could have a significant impact on HIV prevention efforts in areas with high HIV prevalence and low levels of male circumcision if uptake increases."

UNAIDS and WHO recommend that countries with high HIV prevalence and low levels of male circumcision expand access to safe, voluntary male circumcision as part of an HIV prevention program.

Scaling up voluntary medical male circumcision was stunted by a shortage of surgically trained and skilled providers to perform the conventional surgical procedure. PrePex only requires a surgical back-up as needed.

Since programs for voluntary male circumcision for HIV prevention started in 2007, an estimated two million men underwent circumcisions in Eastern and Southern Africa. UNAIDS estimates that the procedure could prevent one in five new HIV infections in the region by 2015.