Male circumcision and HIV prevention

Male circumcision for HIV prevention: from evidence to action

Speaker: Helen Weiss, Professor of Epidemiology and Head of the MRC Tropical Epidemiology Group, London School of Health and Tropical Medicine
Date: 12 February 2014, 17-18.30
Venue: Manson Lecture Theatre, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street

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There is compelling evidence from randomized trials that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by 60-70%. WHO/UNAIDS recommends that voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), provided by well trained health professionals, is included in HIV prevention packages in regions with generalized HIV epidemics. The current goal is to scale-up VMMC in countries in eastern and southern Africa so that 80% of men aged 15-49 years old are circumcised, and to establish sustainable national programmes that provides male circumcision services to all infants up to 2 months old. In this talk we will review the biological and epidemiological evidence that circumcision prevents HIV, and examine the challenges of scaling-up this surgical intervention in resource-poor settings.

Dr Helen Weiss is Professor of Epidemiology and Head of MRC Epidemiology Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). One of her major research interests has been HIV prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the role of male circumcision. In 2000, Dr Weiss and colleagues at LSHTM published an influential systematic review showing that male circumcision was associated with a reduced risk of HIV. Since then, she has evaluated the evidence on many aspects of VMMC, including effects on other sexually transmitted infections, impact for women, risks and benefits of neonatal circumcision. She is a member of the WHO Technical Advisory Group on Innovations in Male Circumcision and is currently collaborating on a study of a device for early infant male circumcision in Zimbabwe, and a cluster randomised trial to evaluate strategies to increase uptake of VMMC among adult men in southern Tanzania.

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