Bill Gates Cuts $50M Check to Circumcise African Men
Under the auspices of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates has donated $50 million to an ambitious program to circumcise up to 650,000 men from the African nations of Swaziland and Zambia in an attempt to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS, which is ravaging the continent. Recent studies have shown that circumcision may cut the risk of HIV infection in men by nearly half. "It's great news, and this is exactly what's needed," says Catherine Hankins, chief scientific adviser at UNAIDS. "We've been working on development of guidance and technical support, and these development partners are now being funded to take it forward." Similar circumcision programs are popping up all around Africa. In Kenya, nearly 20,000 men have already been circumcised. The government of Botswana also recently launched a program to circumcise nearly half a million of its adult male population. The program funded by Gates will employ a network of 250 teams of medical service providers managed by Population Services International, a global health organization, to perform the minor medical procedure. In addition to being circumcised, the men will also learn about condoms and other safer-sex strategies. Africa is by far the continent that has been hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Accounting for less than 12% of the total world population, Africa is home to an estimated 60% of the world's AIDS-infected population.