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Male circumcision HIV prevention in eastern and Southern Africa.

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Switzerland, UNAIDS, 2007

This document offers guidance to programme managers and policy-makers on how to plan and manage communications to support the scale-up of male circumcision in Eastern and Southern Africa. A number of key issues require strong communications support to ensure clarity about the relationship between male circumcision and HIV prevention. Misinformation about male circumcision and strong opinions, both for and against the procedure, present challenges that should be acknowledged and addressed in scaleup plans. In this context it is vital that the following points are clearly emphasized: • Male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection for men but only provides partial protection. It is not a substitute for other proven HIV prevention methods. • Men should not resume sexual intercourse for at least six weeks after circumcision to ensure the healing process is complete. Ideally sex should only recommence after a medical assessment confirms the healing process is complete. • All males, whether circumcised or not, should seek to reduce the risk of HIV transmission through using condoms correctly and consistently and limiting their number of sexual partners. • Whether circumcision takes place in a clinical or a traditional setting it is important to ensure safety. • Information on HIV risk reduction and other benefits for male sexual and reproductive health need to be widely available to ensure individuals make informed choices about male circumcision. • It is important to clearly distinguish between male circumcision and female genital mutilation/cutting which must be discouraged as a harmful practice with demonstrated adverse health effects and no health benefits. • Male circumcision is not recommended for men who are already infected with HIV. For HIV positive men there is no demonstrated public health benefit for reduced HIV transmission to their partners and men with severe immunodeficiency are at an increased risk of complications following surgery.