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AIDS forum at the University of Texas

Last week, three professors at the University of Texas, including me, discussed the state of debate on AIDS prevention and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. James Wilson of the History Department and I debated whether or not male circumcision could possibly help reduce incidence of new infections. My take is that we should try whatever works. Prevention I suggested is hard. Changing people’s sexual behavior is very difficult. People won’t abstain in sufficient numbers. Women can’t insist that their sexual partners use condoms. Therefore, it may be necessary to turn to technological solutions like circumcision if the other prevention tools on their own aren’t sufficient to significantly reduce the incidence of new infections. The clinical trials seem to validate that male circumcision can work to reduce the rate of infection by 50%.

Dr. Wilson’s view is that the circumcision in African societies has historically been practiced by certain groups and has specific cultural connotations and is associated with rites of passage. It is therefore likely to be a much more complex and difficult policy to implement without incurring a cultural backlash or other unanticipated consequences. We’ve blogged about it before, but my guess is that if donors can work out a way to implement a circumcision program that is culturally appropriate and that people want, then this may well be worth trying in addition to other educational and behavior change programs. In addition, not instead of.

Here is a news story on the forum.

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One Response to “AIDS forum at the University of Texas”

  1. Hello and good morning! Just wanted to come in and say hi. I’m Jerry. I enjoy cooking, volunteering, doing Paint Shop on the computer. I also like to listen to country, 70’s and 80’s music. Thanks for letting me join your group!