Hines JZ, Sachathep K, Pals S, Davis SM, Toledo C, Bronson M, Parekh B, Carrasco M, Xaba S, Mandisarisa J, Kamobyi R, Chituwo O, Kirungi WL, Alamo S, Kabuye G, Awor AC, Mmbando S, Simbeye D, Aupokolo MA, Zemburuka B, Nyirenda R, Msungama W, Tarumbiswa T, Manda R, Nuwagaba-Biribonwoha H, Kiggundu V, Thomas AG, Watts H, Voetsch AC, Williams DB.
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2021 Mar 16. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000002658. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33765683.
Background: Male circumcision (MC) offers men lifelong partial protection from heterosexually-acquired HIV infection. The impact of MC on HIV incidence has not been quantified in nationally-representative samples. Data from the Population-based HIV Impact Assessments (PHIAs) were used to compare incidence by MC status in countries implementing voluntary medical MC (VMMC) programs.
Methods: Data were pooled from PHIAs conducted in Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe from 2015-2017. Incidence was measured using a recent infection testing algorithm, and analyzed by self-reported MC status distinguishing between medical and non-medical MC. Country, marital status, urban setting, sexual risk behaviors, and mean population HIV viral load among women as an indicator of treatment scale-up were included in a random effects logistic regression model using pooled survey weights. Analyses were age-stratified (15-34 and 35-59 years). Annualized incidence rates and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and incidence differences were calculated between medically circumcised and uncircumcised men.
Results: Men 15-34 years reporting medical MC had lower HIV incidence than uncircumcised men (0.04% [95% CI: 0.00, 0.10%] versus 0.34% [95% CI: 0.10, 0.57%], respectively; p-value = 0.01); whereas among men 35-59 years, there was no significant incidence difference (1.36% [95% CI: 0.32, 2.39%] versus 0.55% [95% CI: 0.14, 0.67%], respectively; p-value = 0.14).
Discussion: Medical MC was associated with lower HIV incidence in men aged 15-34 years in nationally-representative surveys in Africa. These findings are consistent with the expected ongoing VMMC program impact and highlight the importance of VMMC for the HIV response in Africa.