Working toward an AIDS-Free Generation: STAR-E Implementation of Safe Male Circumcision Services
In recent years, there has been a shift in how the international community is addressing the HIV epidemic. As more people are receiving antiretroviral therapy, we are seeing the benefits of reduced viral load on a population level. Fewer babies are being born HIV positive and prevalence rates are dropping in most countries with the highest HIV burdens. With knowledge of how to prevent further spread of the epidemic and tools to keep those who are already infected alive, we are now working on “getting to zero”—zero new infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.
We are working toward raising an AIDS-free generation, because for the first time, it is possible.
To reach this end, the global community is tackling the epidemic from all sides: improved access to treatment, improved treatment regimens, regimens for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission, and improved and better access to prevention strategies. One of these prevention strategies is safe male circumcision (SMC).
Data from three randomized controlled studies in 2007 showed that circumcision reduces men’s risk of acquiring HIV through heterosexual intercourse by 60 percent. To scale up access to this lifesaving service, the Strengthening TB & AIDS Response-Eastern Region (STAR-E) in Uganda, funded by USAID and led by MSH, trained five mobile teams of ten medical personnel each, who travel with all necessary supplies and equipment and set up temporary operations at lower-level facilities that do not offer safe medical circumcision services.
In just four years, STAR-E has provided safe medical circumcision services to over 146,000 men between the ages of 15 and 49 and, as a result, 7,684 new HIV infections have been averted.