Pollock Clinics

February 24, 2009 06:30 ET

BC Surgeon Joins Fight Against Sub-Saharan Aids

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 24, 2009) -

Editors Note: A photo is included with this press release.

Vancouver-based circumcision and vasectomy surgeon, Dr. Neil Pollock, recently returned from a 10 day mission to sub-Saharan Africa where he taught Rwandan doctors proper infant circumcision technique to help them stem the spread of AIDS in the region. Dr. Pollock travelled as part of a team assembled by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and their partner in the project, Family Health International (FHI).

An estimated 1.9 million people were newly infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in sub-Saharan Africa in 2007, bringing to 22 million the number of people living there with HIV. A full two thirds of the global population living with HIV live in this region, and three quarters of all the world's AIDS deaths in 2007 occurred there(i).

According to studies conducted in Africa, circumcised men are up to 60% less likely than uncircumcised men to contract the AIDS virus from heterosexual sex with an infected partner, owing to the presence of immune cells in the foreskin which are vulnerable to infection(ii). The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UNAIDS program now recommend that adult male circumcision be part of comprehensive AIDS reduction programs in those nations where a high percentage of the population is uncircumcised, HIV is widespread, and the spread is predominantly heterosexual (as is the case in many south and east African nations)(iii). According to United Nations and WHO modeling studies, if all men in sub-Saharan Africa were circumcised, almost six million new cases of HIV infection would be prevented and three million lives saved over the next 20 years(iv).

Dr. Pollock, who has performed what is arguably the world's oldest surgical procedure over 30,000 times, spent four days in December at the King Faisal Hospital in Kigali, teaching the hospital's chief surgeons his "Mogen" infant circumcision technique. The technique, named after the specialized tool used in the procedure, is a virtually painless and bloodless method which takes less than a minute to perform.

Dr. Pollock decided to travel to the region after he was asked by Dr. David Patrick, Head of Epidemiology at the BCCDC, to join their fact-finding mission to the rapidly developing country. The mission was a team effort to consult widely with everyone in the Rwandan health care system involved in the fight against AIDS (from major players in the Ministry of Health, to front-line workers, to people living with HIV). In anticipation of his trip, Dr. Pollock contacted Rwandan doctors and inquired as to why, given the correlation between circumcision and AIDS prevention, and the increasing number of adult circumcisions being carried out, so few infant circumcisions were being performed in that country.

"They told me that very few parents were having their children circumcised because the procedures were being performed with scissors and stitches, without adequate anaesthetic and were taking around 30 minutes to complete," said Pollock, whose Lower Mainland practice is limited to infant circumcision and vasectomy. "I offered to go and teach them how to perform the procedure in a safer, quicker and less painful way and they happily took me up on the offer."

Pollock, whose research into infant circumcision has been published internationally, hopes that the proper technique will encourage more Rwandan parents to have their sons circumcised.

"When a relatively simple and painless procedure exists that can so dramatically reduce one's chances of contracting AIDS, it seemed tragic that the local doctors in Rwanda were not properly trained to use it," said Pollock. "This was, by far, the most meaningful week I have spent in surgery in my life and I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to join forces with the BCCDC, FHI and their amazing team."

While much of the trip's cost was covered by grant money from Canadian Institutes of Health Research and funding from the Shusterman Foundation, Dr. Pollock, through the support of friends and family, raised the funds required to purchase and deliver multiple sets of equipment and supplies that would allow Rwandan surgeons to set up and operate an infant circumcision clinic once he left.

At the end of Dr. Pollock's visit, the Rwandan Ministry of Health announced they were making infant circumcision a priority in their fight against AIDS, as they found it to be more sustainable in the long run and ten times cheaper than adult circumcision(v). Pollock credits this development to the substantial pre-existing momentum on the ground from the ongoing efforts of the Rwandan Ministry of Health and FHI to develop a viable program of infant circumcision.

While in Rwanda, where women have an average of six children(vi) and contraceptive and sterilization options are limited, Dr. Pollock also presented a talk to local vasectomy surgeons. He hopes to return with a team to the region on a second teaching mission to instruct local doctors on his No-Scalpel No-Needle vasectomy procedure, a virtually painless technique lasting less than six minutes, which he performs approximately 2,000 times a year in his Vancouver and New Westminster clinics.

Dr. Neil Pollock of Pollock Clinics limits his practice to infant circumcision and No-Scalpel No-Needle vasectomy. Dr. Pollock has safely performed over 30,000 infant circumcisions and 10,000 vasectomies over the course of his 15 years in surgical practice. Currently, he performs approximately 2,500 infant circumcisions and 2,000 vasectomies annually at his two offices in New Westminster and Vancouver, B.C.. Dr. Pollock is a frequent guest lecturer at local hospitals and conferences. His research into developing a safe, quick and virtually pain-free approach to infant circumcision has been published internationally in The National Post, Family Practice, and The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. For more information please call Dr. Neil Pollock at 604-644-5775 or e-mail him at drneil@pollockclinics.com. Visit Pollock Clinics online at www.circumcisionvancouver.com for infant circumcision, and at www.pollockclinics.com for vasectomy.

(i) www.unaids.org/en/CountryResponses/Regions/default.asp

(ii) www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/QA/AMC12_QA.htm

(iii) www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/news/20070329/circumcision-new-weapon-against-aids

(iv) www.kaisernetwork.org/Daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=38425

(v) www.newtimes.co.rw/index.php?issue=13761&article=12103

(vi) http://globalis.gvu.unu.edu/indicator_detail.cfm?country=RW&indicatorid=138

MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE: media3.marketwire.com/fm/3864

Contact Information