News / Africa

Reducing HIV Risk with Painless Male Circumcision

PrePex device is described as a safe, painless, nonsurgical method to perform circumcision on adult men.
PrePex device is described as a safe, painless, nonsurgical method to perform circumcision on adult men.
Joe DeCapua

Studies have shown that male circumcision greatly reduces the risk of HIV transmission. The World Health Organization is weighing approval of a new device that could make the procedure simple and painless.

The WHO and UNAIDS call male circumcision an important and effective strategy to help slow HIV infections. In a recent report, they said the potential exists to avoid 22 percent of HIV infections by 2025 in 14 countries in eastern and southern Africa.

However, to do that, 80 percent of the men between ages 15 and 49 would have to be circumcised. But if men believe the procedure involves needles, scalpels and pain, there could be a less than enthusiastic response to having it done.

The World Health Organization is now reviewing trial results of a new device call PrePex, which was used to circumcise more than 1,000 men in Rwanda.

“Essentially, it’s a device designed to compress the foreskin using two rings. And that ultimately by squeezing the skin in a very non-painful way the blood supply to the skin begins to go away and the skin dies, which is what we want. And then it’s able to, sort of, fall off,” said Dr. Steven Kaplan, of New York’s Weil Cornell Medical Center, who is a urologist and co-investigator of the PrePex study.

Did he say non painful?

“When blood supply to an area of skin is removed there’s no pain because the nerve fibers also don’t get blood supply. So that’s why patients tolerate it because when you first think about it you say isn’t that going to hurt? And the answer is no, because the blood supply goes away and therefore the pain goes away as well,” he said.

From start to finish, it can take about a week, maybe less. No surgery is involved, no sharp objects.

The beauty of this is that this can be done in almost any environment. Does not require any anesthetic. Does not require any sterile environment. And that’s what we believe will make this very, very useful and adaptable to large communities throughout the world and, here, particularly Africa,” said Kaplan.

Health professionals, not just doctors, can be trained to use PrePex.

Kaplan said it’s long been known that removing the foreskin of the penis brings a number of health benefits.

“Various types of germs, the virus, bacteria, other types of sexually transmitted diseases, are sort of, if you will, hidden, kept under the foreskin because a lot of times it’s not retracted. It’s not well cleaned. It just becomes really almost an empty alleyway where all these bad bugs can hide,” he said.

Good results

Rwandan Health Minister Dr. Agnes Binagwaho praised the PrePex device following the trial in her country.

“So, it was very successful. First of all, it proved that it was safe. It proved that it was efficient and it proved that it was superior to the surgical male circumcision,” she said.

During the trial, men in the PrePex study were kept in the hospital strictly for observation. The minister says men who had the new procedure were laughing and playing. Men who had the surgical procedure were not.

Rwanda’s HIV prevalence rate is 3 percent. But the results of a new survey are expected in about a month. The health minister said the goal is to circumcise about two million men.

“We want to protect our men against the risk of HIV transmission by circumcising them. And, you know, when you protect men you also protect women. You also protect future children of those women,” she said.

Binagwaho said it isn’t just an issue for Rwanda, but for the whole world.

“I think the line of men who want to be circumcised is bigger than the capacity to circumcise. Because for the time being, the official way to circumcise is the surgical circumcision,” she said.

PrePex is being developed by CircMedTech. The company says the device has been cleared for marketing in the European Union and hopes the World Health Organization will give its approval in early 2012.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs