KISUMU, 17 November 2009 (PlusNews) - The Kenyan government is
expanding services to meet the growing demand for voluntary
medical male circumcision after the launch of a national campaign
a year ago.
"We believe the launch of a rapid results initiative to scale up
what we are already offering will help meet the demand; our
target is an ambitious one to see to it that at least 1.1 million
of the uncircumcised men in this country get the cut by the end
of five years," said Jackson Kioko, director of medical services
in western Nyanza Province.
Results of three random trials in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda
in 2005 and 2006 demonstrated that medical male circumcision
reduced the risk of HIV infection among men by up to 60 percent.
According to the Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey 2007, 85 percent of
Kenyan men are circumcised; HIV prevalence is higher by
three-to-five times in uncircumcised men. There are about 1.2
million uncircumcised men between the ages of 15 and 49 in Kenya,
most of whom live in Nyanza Province, where fewer than 50 percent
of men are circumcised.
Since the launch of the national campaign in November 2008, an
estimated 40,000 men have been circumcised and 124 sites opened
and equipped with facilities and personnel to offer the service.
The government has trained 700 health workers in the province to
offer the services in various health facilities.
"The trained health workers will ensure people who demand these
services get them in a safe and timely manner and the training of
others is ongoing across the various provinces within the
country," Kioko added.
The government also plans to roll out mobile medical
circumcision. "We do not want people to opt out simply because
the services are not near them and we are making arrangements
that we go to them rather than them coming to us," Kioko said.
"We will, in the near future, offer infant medical circumcision;
this has the potential to help people in time before their sexual
Experts remain emphatic, however, that male circumcision must not
be viewed as a complete prevention tool. "It is refreshing to see
that research is being put to use, but we should take precautions
to ensure that we constantly give information that male
circumcision must work along with other HIV infection prevention
strategies to be effective," said Kawango Agot, head of the
Nyanza Reproductive Health Society.
"We have plans to launch a study to look into the sexual
behaviours of men who have been circumcised to find out if they
are engaging in risky behaviours due to the fact that they have
been circumcised," she added. "We hope this will ascertain if
indeed people are engaging in [risky sex]."
A 2007 study in Kisumu, provincial capital of Nyanza, found that
circumcision did not result in increased HIV risky behaviour. It
found that as male circumcision became more widely promoted,
there would be a need to monitor "risk compensation" associated
with the procedure.