Bill Gates helps fund mass circumcision programme
- Bill Gates helps fund mass circumcision programme* Updated 17:53 15 June 2009 by Andy Coghlan* For similar stories, visit the HIV and AIDS and Love and Sex Topic GuidesMicrosoft founder Bill Gates last week injected $50 million into a programme to circumcise up to 650,000 men in Swaziland and Zambia.The goal of the project is to curb the transmission of HIV in two of the AIDS hotspots of the world, as circumcision has been shown to more than halve the risk of men becoming infected.Funded for five years through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the programme is the first to massively scale up provision of circumcision by fully trained medical practitioners.Traditional methods of circumcision sometimes harm and even kill boys and young men. The network of 250 teams of providers will be managed by Population Services International, a global health organisation based in Washington, DC."It's great news, and this is exactly what's needed," says Catherine Hankins, chief scientific adviser at UNAIDS. "We've been working on development of guidance and technical support, and these development partners are now being funded to take it forward," says Haskins.Hankins said that Kenya has the most advanced programme, with 20,000 men newly circumcised, and plans are also well-advanced in Botswana and Namibia. But she stressed that circumcision can't alone protect men or women against HIV, and that circumcised men should still take additional precautions, such as wearing condoms and not engaging in risky or promiscuous sex."Ensuring they understand how to maintain safe behaviours is key, and the procedure would be 100-per-cent accompanied by education to that end", says a PSI spokesman.