Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) is a one-time preventive measure that reduces by 60% the risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV from women to men, in settings of high HIV prevalence among the general population. VMMC impacts on the HIV epidemic in high-prevalence settings. VMMC services are provided as a package of prevention interventions in 15 eastern and southern African countries, including safer sex education, condom education and provision, HIV testing and linkages to care and treatment, and management of sexually transmitted infections.
Although no health challenge over the past century has equalled COVID-19 in the speed of its spread, this is not the first pandemic that the modern global community has faced. As countries grapple with the steadily worsening COVID-19 pandemic, they are already tapping into the experience from, and investments in, the HIV response: applying lessons learned, leveraging systems and identifying the dynamic changes needed to build a new way forward towards systems for health that are optimally effective, accountable, inclusive, equitable and sufficiently resourced, with services that are accessible, integrated, tailored and people-centred.
Addressing stigma and discrimination in the COVID-19 response
In the wake of the fear and uncertainty that emerge during a pandemic, stigma and discrimination quickly follow, exposing people to violence, harassment and isolation, and hampering the delivery and uptake of essential health services and public health measures to control the pandemic (1). The stigma that arises during a pandemic can exacerbate existing inequalities (2), including those related to race, socioeconomic status, occupation, gender, immigration status and sexual orientation.