Associate Professor, Core Faculty UNC Bioethics Center - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Implementation of male circumcision to prevent HIV: ethical issues
My objectives are: (1) to examine the advantages and disadvantages of using targets in public health, using VMMC programs as a case study, in view of conceptualizing 'responsible target-setting'. The use of targets helps guide planning and organization of health promotion initiatives, but also can lead to some ethically questionable practices pursuit of the targets; (2) to explore the question: if being circumcised promotes public health, it is acceptable to stigmatize the uncircumcised? Some VMMC programs communicate that the uncircumcised are hindering the struggle against HIV and that women will not want sexual relations with them. I will make some comparisons with other health issues, such as smoking and obesity; (3) to analyze the pros and cons, from public health, clinical and ethics perspectives, of circumcising boys at younger ages than has been previously conducted. Such policies may have public health advantages but are controversial as boys may not be capable of even providing informed assent for an intervention they will not benefit from until later in life (assuming hetrosexual orientation).
Stuart Rennie is Associate Professor in Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA), Core Faculty at the UNC Bioethics Center and former co-Chair of UNC’s Institutional Review Board for behavioral research. He obtained his Masters in Anthropology and PhD in philosophy from the University of Leuven, Belgium. Dr. Rennie’s current teaching and research interests focus on research ethics, public health ethics and medical ethics in developing countries, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. He is currently co-Principal Investigator of two National Institutes of Health (NIH)/Fogarty International Center bioethics capacity building projects in Central Francophone Africa and South Africa. He is a co-investigator in NIH funded research on the responsible conduct of HIV research involving adolescents in Kenya, and the ethics of using big data to enhance continuity of HIV care for jailed persons in North Carolina. Dr. Rennie has been a Visiting Lecturer at the Center for Bioethics in Stellenbosch (South Africa), where he is currently Extraordinary Professor in Medicine.