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International News

New Web Site Seeks to Fight Myths About Circumcision and HIV

March 4, 2009

The World Health Organization (WHO) and several partners have introduced a Web site to serve as a clearinghouse for information regarding male circumcision and how it can help prevent HIV transmission.

Acting upon the results of African studies that showed the procedure can reduce the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by 60 percent, WHO began recommending male circumcision two years ago. Implementing the recommendation has been problematic, however. Misinformation has circulated, and there were reports of complications as traditional healers in some countries performed the operation with unsterile instruments.

In developing the new Web site, WHO worked with UNAIDS, the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, Family Health International, and schools of public health in the United States and United Kingdom. The site offers scientific studies, news reports, and policy documents.

It also presents a handbook showing surgical techniques. Dr. Kim Eva Dickson, the WHO medical officer who oversaw the site's development, said this information is not intended to provide training for traditional healers or even for surgeons: Experts say such knowledge should be passed directly from one surgeon to another. However, it could help health care workers in rural settings enhance their skills and learn about new methods and techniques.

Another important purpose of the site, Dickson said, is to combat myths, particularly the notion that circumcised men are entirely protected from HIV and need no longer use condoms during intercourse.

Visit the Web site at

Back to other news for March 2009

Adapted from:
New York Times
03.03.2009; Donald G. McNeil Jr.

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention


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