Southern and Eastern Africa Region Male Circumcision Communication Meeting

A Joint UNAIDS & PEPFAR Coordinated Meeting, September 22-24, 2010

The rapid roll-out of male circumcision (MC) programming is crucial to halting the further spread of the HIV epidemic in countries with generalized epidemics and low rates of MC. This is an urgent public health challenge; if the 14 target countries reach the goal of 80 percent coverage by 2015, an estimated 4 million adult infections will be averted.

Modeling indicates that reaching these targets faster will avert even more new infections than a gradual scale-up. However, the communication challenge of reaching 80 percent coverage for MC is daunting in terms of increasing uptake of services, addressing firmly held cultural beliefs and gender issues, and avoiding unintended consequences, such as greater risk taking by circumcised men.

Creating demand for adolescent and adult MC is essential to the success of scale-up. To consolidate what the HIV community has learned to date and advance MC communication, the Male Circumcision Technical Working Group for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) organized the first regional meeting on MC communication from September 22 to 24, 2010. Held in Durban, South Africa, the meeting brought together 117 health professionals from 14 countries in east and southern Africa (including representatives of the military from 9 countries) and international experts from Europe and North America.