Male circumcision cost-effective means to prevent HIV – UN-backed report

9 September 2009 – Male circumcision is a cost-effective means to prevent the spread of HIV, according to a new United Nations-backed report, which found that one HIV infection could be averted for every five to 15 procedures performed on heterosexual men.

Using a 10-year time horizon, the study put the cost of averting one HIV infection in high HIV prevalence areas between $150 and $900.

Published in the open access journal PLoS Medicine, it is based on findings in meetings convened by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA).

First-line treatment costs typically exceed $7,000 over a lifetime, and double that if second-line therapies are used, the report said.

With each circumcision procedure costing between $30 and $60, with neonatal circumcision costing only one-third that amount, “circumcising sexually active males of any age is likely to be cost saving,” it stressed.

However, the new publication pointed out that male circumcision may have only a minimal impact on curbing HIV transmission among men who have sex with men.

Additionally, despite studies confirming that circumcision could decrease female-to-male HIV transmission by 60 per cent, the procedure does not directly protect women from the virus, the report said.

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