HIV prevention tackled by AUA circumcision task force

April 1, 2010

AUA has formed a task force to create a pool of qualified surgeons who will teach and perform male circumcision to help prevent the spread of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa.

Linthicum, MD-AUA has formed a task force to create a pool of qualified surgeons who will teach and perform male circumcisions to help prevent the spread of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa, the association recently announced.

The task force will work to link its volunteer surgeons with various African ministries of health and with international health agencies in need of physicians qualified to perform circumcisions. AUA will offer a training course for potential volunteers at its 2010 annual meeting in San Francisco.

"The Male Circumcision Task Force was formed at the request of the AUA board of directors after the role of male circumcision in reducing the spread of HIV infection was proven by three prospective randomized clinical trials in Africa," said Ira Sharlip, MD, clinical professor of urology at the University of California, San Francisco and chair of the task force.

Indeed, numerous studies have suggested that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV acquisition. Dr. Sharlip highlighted the three recent clinical trials, all of which showed that male circumcision produced substantial reductions in HIV infection in heterosexual African men:

Dr. Sharlip noted that African nations with high prevalence of HIV disease and low prevalence of circumcision include Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Uganda, among others.

Volunteer training available

The training course at the AUA annual meeting is for potential volunteers. It is designed for board-eligible/board-certified urologists and residents interested in traveling to Africa for 2 to 4 weeks of volunteer service. The free, non-CME course will be held twice during the meeting: Monday, May 31, from 1 pm to 3 pm; and Tuesday, June 1, from 1 to 3 pm.

"The course will cover such topics as the epidemiology of circumcision and of HIV, techniques of male circumcision and local anesthesia, why male circumcision is effective for HIV prevention, elements of an effective HIV prevention program, challenges of circumcision training in Africa, cultural sensitivity, what to expect at the African sites, how to be a good teacher and ambassador, and AUA requirements for volunteers," Dr. Sharlip said.

Volunteers-who will have all of their trip-related expenses paid-will travel to various nations in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Sharlip was unsure how many urologic surgeons would go over at one time, saying it depends largely on demand, though he did estimate that volunteers might perform between 20 and 50 procedures per day.