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.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

New UN report says 50 million women in Asia at risk of HIV from their partners

An estimated 50 million women in Asia, who are either married or in long-term relationships with men who engage in high-risk sexual behaviours, are at risk of becoming infected with HIV from their partners, according to a new report published by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).