Supplement: Adolescent Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision - Vital Intervention Yet Improvements Needed
Global experts recognize the need to transform conventional models of healthcare to create adolescent responsive health systems. As countries near 80% coverage of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) for those aged 15–49 years, prioritization of younger men becomes critical to VMMC sustainability. This special supplement reporting 9 studies focusing on adolescent VMMC programming and services comes at a critical time. Eight articles report how well adolescents are reached with the World Health Organization’s minimum package for comprehensive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania, analyzing motivation, counseling, wound healing, parental involvement, female peer support, quality of in-service communication, and providers’ perceptions, and one presents models for achieving high VMMC coverage by 2021. One important finding is that adolescent boys, especially the youngest, experience gaps in their comprehension of key elements in the World Health Organization’s minimum package. Although parents, counselors, and providers are involved and supportive, they are inadequately prepared to counsel youth, partly owing to discomfort with adolescent sexuality. At the country level, deliberately prioritizing young adolescents (aged 10–14 years) is likely to achieve national coverage targets more quickly and cost-effectively than continuing to focus on older, harder-to-reach men. The studies in this supplement point to areas where VMMC programs are achieving successes and they reveal areas for improvement. Given that prioritizing adolescents will be the best means of achieving sustainable VMMC for HIV prevention for the foreseeable future, applying the lessons learned here will increase the effectiveness of VMMC programs.