How effective is VMMC?
VMMC doesn't make it impossible for someone to get HIV, but it does make it less likely. Studies have shown that male circumcision can reduce female-to-male transmission by 60% in a population.
VMMC is a one-off intervention that will have a life-long effect in reducing your HIV risk. This makes it a simple and effective way to increase your protection against the virus. However, men who are circumcised should still use other HIV prevention including condoms, limiting their number of sexual partners; and having regular HIV and STI tests.
Is VMMC recommended for men who have sex with men?
VMMC reduces the risk of getting HIV by making the skin at the top of the penis harder. For this reason, it can only reduce a man's risk of getting HIV when he's having sex with his penis. The risk of getting HIV from receptive anal sex will not be reduced. It also won't reduce a person's risk of getting HIV from sharing needles to inject drugs.
VMMC has most commonly been targeted at men who have sex with women because we have more evidence that VMMC reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission. But more and more health providers are saying that this safe and cost-effective means of HIV prevention should be targeted at men who have sex with men too.
What are the benefits of male circumcision for women?
Women benefit from VMMC indirectly. If more men in the community are circumcised and less likely to get HIV, this means that they are also less likely to pass on HIV to their female partners. Men who are circumcised are less likely to get other STIs too, such as HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer. This again has a really big benefit for women and girls, as it reduces their likelihood of getting cervical cancer, a very common and potentially serious cancer for women.
Some studies have shown that involving women and girls in VMMC promotion can encourage men to get circumcised. Many female partners are very supportive of VMMC as they understand the benefit it has for them, and see it as an indication that their male partners are taking care of both their health.
What is female circumcision? Why is it dangerous?
Female circumcision is a harmful practice. It doesn't have any health benefits for women and it can cause serious health problems throughout a woman's life.
There are different forms of female circumcision, all of which involve some form of cutting and removing parts of the labia, clitoris and narrowing the vaginal opening. There are no HIV prevention benefits to any of these procedures, and they can lead to an increased risk of HIV transmission. Female circumcision can also lead to severe pain, psychological trauma, and ongoing health problems including around sex, childbirth and menstruation.
If you or someone else is worried about female circumcision, speak to a healthcare worker or someone you trust.