Call to Action for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision

The Job Is Not Done Yet

In the pursuit of a future without HIV and AIDS, voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) remains an integral component of the arsenal in HIV prevention, offering a cost-effective and scientifically proven intervention that holds immense potential in curbing the acquisition of HIV.

A two-page summary document is also available.

The HIV Prevention Pipeline

This graphic shows currently available options for HIV prevention, newly approved and recommended treatment, and those in development.

Avac Event

Latest developments in VMMC research and implementation

AIDS 2014 brought more updates on voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) including new data on risk behaviors in circumcised men, the impact of cash transfers as part of VMMC programming and more. Kenyan researcher and implementer Kawango Agot reviewed the latest findings.

Avac Event

Non-Surgical Devices for VMMC

This AVAC global advocates’ webinar was on the topic of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) devices and the recent news that the World Health Organization had prequalified the PrePex device. The goal of the webinar was to help advocates understand the prequalification process, recent events and discuss next steps for rollout. There was a brief presentation followed by a moderated discussion.

Lepheana Mosooane

Lepheana is the founder and interim coordinator of the Key Affected Populations Alliance of Lesotho, the first and only sex workers organisation in Lesotho. He’s also the program coordinator at the Disabled and HIV/AIDS Organization Lesotho, where he coordinates an MSM project funded by USAID. He is a three-time award-winning filmmaker and social activist who uses the power of film to address issues affecting young people, marginalized communities and individuals. He has worked as a radio drama scriptwriter, a filmmaker and activist.

Fellowship Focus
Lepheana used the power of film to advocate and create demand for VMMC and to facilitate HIV education in Lesotho. He specifically focused on the issue of integration of VMMC and traditional circumcision and initiated important conversations to influence national VMMC policy and programming. He established an important civil society coalition that has continued to advocate for issues surrounding health and human rights in Lesotho.

In Their Own Words
As an HIV educator and filmmaker, I can use the power of film to advocate for VMMC so as to effectively create demand and facilitate HIV education.

My Work as a Fellow

Godfrey Ochieng Okumu

Godfrey is a social change advocate with almost two decades of experience. He currently works at Tostan International, focusing on building partnerships and monitoring and evaluation. He’s also the focal person for Tostan’s training and replication pathway, a pilot advocacy project on ending violence against women and girls. He’s been actively involved in the rollout of VMMC from the onset, playing a key role in the negotiation of buy-in from the custodians of local culture and overseeing demand creation.

Fellowship Focus
Godfrey’s project focused on advocacy to hold the Kenyan Ministry of Health and county governments accountable in VMMC implementation. He was directly involved in the development of the national VMMC communications strategy, initiating and influencing conversations on VMMC and domestic financing at the county level. Godfrey also pushed for the rollout of PrEP among adolescent girls and young women.

In Their Own Words
As a long-standing VMMC advocate, I believe that now is the time for Kenya to start taking concrete steps to ensure the current gains are not lost should donor funding end and implementing partners recede.

Godfrey’s Advocacy

Sylvia Nakasi

Sylvia is currently the Acting Executive Director for the Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organisations (UNASO). She has extensive experience working on HIV prevention, research advocacy and program development and management, with specific focus on project cycle management, resource mobilization, capacity building, networking and advocacy at the community, district, national and international levels.

Fellowship Focus
Sylvia documented lessons learned about VMMC for HIV prevention implementation and influenced its rollout in Uganda. She also explored and documented perspectives regarding ARV-based prevention in Uganda in order to prepare for the possible introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), 1% tenofovir gel and treatment as prevention.

In Their Own Words
In my opinion, as advocates it’s our duty to bridge the knowledge gap in our communities, sensitize the communities and help change their attitudes and behaviors towards interventions that would most benefit communities to make prevention and treatment a reality.

Sylvia’s Advocacy

Richard Hasunira

Richard wears many hats: he is an economist, policy analyst, journalist, a passionate HIV/AIDS advocate, and before the Fellowship he was Communication Manager at HEPS-Uganda, a health rights advocacy civil society organization. At the time of his Fellowship project, he had been team leader of policy advocacy research studies for the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) and the Regional Network for Equity in Health in East and Southern Africa (EQUINET). Richard’s advocacy work for HIV prevention research started in 2007, when he was part of a media and advocacy mapping study for new prevention research in Uganda. He is keen on biomedical research into microbicides because of the hope they offer to women, who remain vulnerable to and are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.

Fellowship Focus
Richard analyzed the community engagement mechanisms of the MDP 301 and MTN 003 (VOICE) studies as case studies in documenting community experiences, perceptions and lessons learned in order to contribute to a better understanding of the effects of the closure of HIV prevention clinical trials on communities, to identify best practices that should be emulated in future trials and to highlight areas that need improvement and advocacy. Richard also contributed to a better understanding and appreciation of biomedical HIV prevention research and advocacy within trial communities and the broader community of civil society at the national level in Uganda.

In Their Own Words
Have we not been over-excited by the possibility of an ARV-based prevention option, so much so that we seem to have “put all our eggs in one basket”? Doesn’t an AIDS vaccine–even a modestly effective one–still have a place in the HIV prevention puzzle?

Victor Lakay

Victor is a community activist with a strong desire to build a society that offers a better and just life for all. At the time of his Fellowship project, he was a member of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (formerly the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality), an organization that challenged discriminatory provisions that governed South Africa and won equal rights for LGTBI persons. He was also a member of the Alternative Information & Development Center (AIDC), an organization contributing to the development of alternatives to the challenges of the currently dominant global economic system. As a student, he actively participated in the fight against apartheid, something in which he takes great pride. He has previously worked as a consultant for the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, the Equality Project and the South African National AIDS Council.

Fellowship Focus
Victor brought extensive community organizing experience to projects related to prevention research advocacy. His project focused on male circumcision, microbicides, and PrEP. He effectively advocated for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and their right to access a comprehensive prevention package of care. He also worked to develop leaders among PLWHA and women within the Treatment Action Committee who advocated for the right to access quality social services, treatment and prevention. Additionally, he worked toward improving science-based knowledge on health, health rights and policy literacy through research, and toward strengthening advocacy and leadership at the local, district and provincial levels in South Africa.

In Their Own Words
I’m learning all the time. And I’m not learning only from my mentors but also from those who have elected me to this role of leadership because I constantly have to figure out, “What is it that is expected of me as a leader? And how do I deliver on that?”.

Alliance Nikuze

Alliance has been directly impacted by HIV/AIDS, having lost family members to AIDS-related complications. Although her primary advocacy has centered on female empowerment and prevention options to prevent penile-vaginal transmission, over the past decade she has become increasingly interested in the need for rectal microbicides, as well. Alliance believes that the continuous commitment of government, organizations and individuals supports the slowing of the pandemic. Her interest in HIV biomedical prevention interventions is grounded in their potential to empower women.

Fellowship Focus
Alliance mobilized civil society groups to inform and influence the rollout of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) for HIV prevention in Rwanda. She explored issues of VMMC acceptability and involvement of partners in health, both crucial issues for the successful implementation of this strategy.

In Their Own Words
We are more than seven billion people on this planet; we surely don’t and can’t have one way of having sexual intercourse. Our diversity is our wealth. Our sexuality as human beings is not supposed to be defined by the available prevention tools, but all the HIV prevention tools have to be adapted to our sexuality.