ATHENA members participate in civil society consultation regarding male circumcision as an HIV-prevention method

WHO held an expert meeting to discuss the implications of scaling up male circumcision as an HIV-prevention method in June 2008. Prior to that meeting, AVAC organized a civil-society consultation in Mombasa, Kenya, on 22-23 June 2008 to discuss the gender-based and woman-centered issues associated with such a move.

Several ATHENA members participated in the consultation, which had more than 35 participants. They included: Tyler Crone, Lydia Mungherera (Mamas' Clubs), Johanna Kehler (AIDS Legal Network, South Africa), Marion Stevens (Health Systems Trust, South Africa), The meeting started a conversation that ATHENA members will continue to carry forward, addressing issues such as:

    * Understanding the data on male circumcision for HIV prevention, what exists and what does not
    * Understanding how male circumcision works as a means of HIV prevention
    * Bridging research and community
    * Bridging perspectives, experience, and expertise from public health, HIV-positive women, sexual and reproductive rights and health (SRHR), gender, and human rights
    * Articulating and addressing the critical gaps and implications for women
    * Advancing comprehensive HIV prevention programs that work for women and men

The concluding recommendations from the women at the consultation can be seen here.

Lydia Mungherera subsequently presented civil-society recommendations to the WHO expert meeting, which began on 24 June. They were given time for people to comment on and ask questions about the recommendations.

ATHENA members helped to achieve an avenue for more people to join the conversation around male circumcision and HIV. There is much more to do, to share, and to continue - and it will require our expanding the circle of stakeholders who understand what role male circumcision for HIV prevention can and cannot play in the response, as well as our working together to monitor and shape how male circumcision programs are scaled up.