KISUMU, Kenya, Sep 7 – The National Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision taskforce has rolled out the second phase of circumcision on regions with a high burden of HIV this time targeting over 1 million men.
The chairman of the Inter County Taskforce on Male Circumcision Dr Ojwang Lusi said the program is transitioning to the second phase of implementation that will run to July 2019.
Lusi said the growing demand for male circumcision could have a dramatic impact on the HIV/Aids epidemic in Nyanza region.
“VMMC is not just an interaction between the knife and that organ called the penis. There is a lot that goes beyond that… it is about the future of a nation, it is about the current state of health of that individual because of the scientific evidence that we had over the period,” he said.
Speaking in Kisumu on Monday during a media briefing on the exercise, Lusi who is also Kisumu County Chief Health Officer said regions with low prevalence of circumcision will be targeted.
The second phase will lower the circumcision age of boys to between 10-14 years.
Lusi announced that the sexual active group was targeted in the first phase with 860,000 boys and men aged 15-49 years being circumcised.
He told the community that male circumcision services comes with a package of HIV prevention that includes, safe sex, counselling, HIV testing and linking those with infection to care.
“You appreciate that those circumcised in the first phase and found to be HIV positive were linked to medical care. VMMC then can be an entry point into care for patients with HIV,” he said.
Nyanza regional AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections Coordinator Dr Charles Okal warned that the HIV prevalence in the region will not reduce drastically due to the ongoing circumcision exercise.
Okal noted that for the effects of male circumcision it may not take that short interval to have an impact.
“It is not actually the prevalence that we should concentrate on, we should concentrate on incidence. Prevalence is already the number of people who have been infected,” he said.
Lusi further noted that some challenges emerged in the first phase that they will strive to address as the second phase.
He said most of the men above 25 years declined to go for the exercise with limited number of women getting involved in the exercise with their husbands.
Lusi announced that the heath sector will provide a framework on the use of World Health Organisation approved male circumcision devices that simplify the process.
He noted that studies have been conducted on the devices to assess their safety and acceptability.