June 18, 2013
On June 18, AVAC, the Mail & Guardian’s Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism and CAPRISA held a media briefing on non-surgical devices for voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). This meeting helped contextualize the recent World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification of the PrePex device and took place in advance of the South African AIDS Conference (SAAIDS) in Durban, South Africa.
WHO pre-qualified the PrePex device at the end of May, and this process has generated a lot of interest in devices as potential innovations for VMMC programs. The PrePex device involves two rings: one placed inside the foreskin on the shaft of the penis, and an elastic ring placed over that one that compresses the foreskin, cutting off the blood supply through pressure.
A full house of reporters was present to hear speakers who included Dr. Ntlotleng Mabena of the South African Centre for HIV and Prevention Studies (CHAPS) and Dr. Thobile Mbegnashe of the South African Department of Health. Dr. Mabena reported that CHAPS plans to run a pilot study of the PrePex device—one of several taking place in countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Mbegnashe said that the government would watch this project closely to learn more about PrePex in the South African context. He told the audience that South Africa is committed to ramping up the procedure, with a goal of 4.3 million men circumcised by 2016.
Mia Malan of the Mail & Guardian and founder of the Bhekisisa Centre wrote a great piece about PrePex and VMMC in South Africa.