Effectiveness of Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Prevention in Rakai, Uganda

Rakai Health Sciences Program

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The efficacy of voluntary male medical circumcision (VMMC) for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention in men was demonstrated in 3 randomized trials. This led to the adoption of VMMC as an integral component of the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) combination HIV prevention program in sub-Saharan Africa. However, evidence on the individual-level effectiveness of VMMC programs in real-world, programmatic settings is limited. METHODS: A cohort of initially uncircumcised, non-Muslim, HIV-uninfected men in the Rakai Community Cohort Study in Uganda was followed between 2009 and 2016 during VMMC scale-up. Self-reported VMMC status was collected and HIV tests performed at surveys conducted every 18 months. Multivariable Poisson regression was used to estimate the incidence rate ratio (IRR) of HIV acquisition in newly circumcised vs uncircumcised men. RESULTS: A total of 3916 non-Muslim men were followed for 17 088 person-years (PY). There were 1338 newly reported VMMCs (9.8/100 PY). Over the study period, the median age of men adopting VMMC declined from 28 years (interquartile range [IQR], 21-35 years) to 22 years (IQR, 18-29 years) (P for trend < .001). HIV incidence was 0.40/100 PY (20/4992.8 PY) among newly circumcised men and 0.98/100 PY (118/12 095.1 PY) among uncircumcised men with an adjusted IRR of 0.47 (95% confidence interval, .28-.78). The effectiveness of VMMC was sustained with increasing time from surgery and was similar across age groups and calendar time. CONCLUSIONS: VMMC programs are highly effective in preventing HIV acquisition in men. The observed effectiveness is consistent with efficacy in clinical trials and supports current recommendations that VMMC is a key component of programs to reduce HIV incidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1946-e1953
JournalClinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 5 2021


  • Africa
  • circumcision
  • combination HIV prevention
  • VMMC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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