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Background: Scaling up Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) is a critical intervention in achieving HIV epidemic control by 2020. However, documentation of programmatic interventions to improve VMMC uptake among military populations, a population that is at high risk of HIV, is lacking. URC-Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP) implemented a novel approach to accelerate VMMC uptake in the Ugandan military. We describe trends in VMMC uptake and associated operational costs following the intervention. We also contrast between military and civilian facilities.
Program Description: We implemented monthly mobile VMMC services throughout the country targeting soldiers, their families and surrounding communities. Records gathered during implementation were used to describe the intervention. Quantitative methods were applied to compare VMMC post intervention rates with set targets and monthly VMMC trends country-wide between military and civilian facilities over a five months period. An operational VMMC service cost analysis was applied to determine per male circumcision unit cost, excluding cost of consumables.
Lessons Learnt: Command-driven mobilization, multiple stakeholder engagement, use of mobile VMMC teams and data-driven planning increased demand for and uptake of VMMC services among the military. By the first month of intervention, VMMC performance had surpassed set monthly targets of 1,474 by 1457 circumcisions, accounting for a 99% increase (n=2,931 circumcisions) from 31% to 62% uptake. Overall VMMC performance achieved within the military was 132% in excess of set targets (n=7,408) at six months. The scaled-up operational VMMC cost per circumcision performed dropped from $15 to $7, a 47% unit cost saving within six months. While a positive trend in VMMC uptake was observed in the military facilities, the opposite was exhibited in civilian facilities over the observation period.
Conclusion: It is feasible to rapidly scale up circumcision coverage in populations served by military health facilities through mobile short term episodic VMMC services which optimize volume and efficiency. Invoking command-led mobilization and multiple stakeholder involvement is critical in demand creation and overcoming the mobile nature of the military.
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