Via Science Speaks, by Meredith Mazzotta.

To the sound of a ticking metronome, Dr. Caroline Ryan of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator gave an update on the scale up of voluntary medical male circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa Wednesday morning at the premiere of the new short film “In It to Save Lives: Scaling Up Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention for Maximum Public Health Impact.”

The metronome was timed to tick once for each of the five new HIV infections that occur every minute worldwide, 3.5 of which occur in sub-Saharan Africa, Ryan said. During her ten-minute talk, fifty people around the world became infected, and of the 35 infections that would occur among those in sub-Saharan Africa, 12 could be averted through the scale up of voluntary medical male circumcision (MC), she said at the end of her presentation.

Clinical trials have shown MC to provide men 60 percent more protection from acquisition of HIV through vaginal sex than their uncircumcised counterparts. The one-time, relatively simple procedure is inexpensive and cost-effective, and governments in sub-Saharan Africa are encouraging men to get the procedure by offering it for free or very little cost with the help of funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other programs.

Dr. Caroline Ryan of the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator gives the opening remarks at Tuesday’s premiere of the film “In It to Save Lives.”

Dr. Ryan joined with other HIV/AIDS experts at the panel discussion and premiere of the film, produced by AIDSTAR-One with support from PEPFAR, which tells the story of how Kenya and Swaziland are turning the tide of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by embracing voluntary medical MC as prevention. Scale up was especially tricky in Kenya’s Nyanza province where Luo elders, the “custodians of culture” in the province, had to be convinced that the procedure was of benefit to its people. According to the film, assuring the elders that the procedure was voluntary was key to winning their approval.

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