June 3, 2013
The WHO on Friday approved PrePex, a medical device for adult circumcision, and "the only adult circumcision method, other than conventional surgery, to gain WHO acceptance," the New York Times reports (McNeil, 5/31). "PrePex, a three-part device that includes size-adjusted rubber bands and a ring to compress blood flow to the foreskin, ... does not require injected anesthetic, sutures, or a sterile environment, and takes a total of five minutes across two visits," the Center for Global Health Policy's "Science Speaks" blog reports (Barton, 5/31). In a statement on the device's approval, the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) said, "Medical devices like PrePex may change the landscape of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) scale-up by potentially simplifying the procedure and improving men's experiences."
Noting "[t]he WHO recommends VMMC as part of a comprehensive package of HIV prevention services," the statement continues, "[PEPFAR] supports the implementation of VMMC programs in 14 East and Southern African countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and has supported more than two million voluntary surgical procedures as of September 30, 2012." Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and head of the U.S. Department of State Office of Global Health Diplomacy, said, "The WHO prequalification of PrePex represents an unprecedented opportunity to further the safe and rapid scale up of voluntary medical male circumcision programs. PEPFAR is ready to support countries that wish to introduce PrePex right away. This announcement will truly help save lives," according to the statement (5/31).