How Circumcision is Helping Fight the AIDS Epidemic in Africa

It is a well-known fact that HIV and Aids have been spreading rampantly throughout the continent of Africa for the past 30+ years. There have been many attempts to end the epidemic, or at least stop the spread of it. But, with HIV vaccine research only moving so quickly, in recent years, scientists have begun to make a case for circumcision playing a vital role in the end of the spreading of the disease.


Until recently, real efforts have been made to find even more ways to implement circumcision throughout the continent. Now, according to, with the help of the World Health Organization and other medical organizations playing vital roles, more clinics then ever have been opened and available for men to receive the surgery, and the virus to be prevented. Studies have shown that within 12 months of the circumcision, men who were circumcised had 80 percent less bacteria around their penis than men who were uncircumcised. It is thought that the bacteria that grows and stays in the penis plays a vital role to the male’s ability to fight infections, and the reduction of the bacteria that lives in the foreskin of the penis tends to multiply more than if a man is circumcised (Park).


Although these results seem promising, there are mixed ideas about the practice, and not all cultures are so easily on board with the idea. Many people, believe that drawing attention to circumcision might almost enable young men to practice more sexual experimentation, and be more willing to practice unprotected sex. This is especially seen in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Condoms are highly underused in many African nations, and it is also thought that many women believe circumcision can be a means of safer sex and refuse to use birth control. Although these opinions that come against circumcision being the best option to stop the spread the disease, it is clear that it is a very beneficial practice. Scientists have found that if 80 percent of men aged 15-49 participated in circumcision, then the spread of HIV could decrease by 30-50 percent over a time span of 10 years—that adds up to 3.4 million fewer infections taking place throughout the continent of Africa alone (de Lange).


Not only does the practice of circumcision prevent the spread of the disease, but medical availability alone means more HIV tests taking place, more cases being found and more treatments being starting to help stop the disease before it is spread. By looking at numerous studies and results of heterosexual men that are circumcised and engaging in sexual activity show that risk of contracting HIV are 57 percent less. Although surgery for circumcision is not cheap by any means (it is estimated that if the 13 most effected countries were reached— including Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe–with the surgery it would cost around $1.5 billion dollars), after accounting how much vaccines and other remedies for the disease would cost, it is shows that around $16 billion dollars would be saved over a span of the next ten years (Harmon).


In closing, circumcision is clearly and simply effective, and relatively cheap way to significantly reduce the seemingly never-ending epidemic that has crippled the continent of Africa for over thirty years. As research continues to take place and show the positive effects, and as more and more men learn the importance and significance of circumcision, the spread of this disease can decrease significantly in the future.



Park, Alice. “Why Circumcision Lowers the Rist of HIV.” TIME Online. April 17, 2013. January 6, 2015.
de Lange, Claire. “Aids Prevention: Africa’s Circumcision Challenge.” November 13, 2013. January 6, 2015.
Harmon, Katherine. “Can Male Circumcision Stem the AIDS Epidemic in Africa?” November 29, 2011. January 7, 2015.