More than 80 percent of men in of Zimbabwe are undergoing circumcision as part of massive campaign to cut down the risk of HIV infection in the African country.

Zimbabwe has embarked upon a large-scale circumcision campaign of its youth; following a study conducted four years ago which found that circumcision - a simple surgical procedure to remove the foreskin from the penis - reduced the chance of contracting HIV by 60 per cent.

Prevalence of HIV infection is high in this sub-Saharan nation. Health authorities in Zimbabwe are carrying out the operation in association with Population Services International (PSI), with the aim of accomplishing the maximum number of circumcisions per day.

The rapid circumcision strategy called ‘Move’ (Models of Optimizing Volumes and Efficiency), uses pre-sterilised, pre-assembled kits. Instead of stitches, the wound is cauterised.

A team of doctors and nurses operate on four patients at a time, each in a private, curtained but adjoining cubicle. One doctor gives the local anaesthetic to all four patients. By the time he reaches the fourth patient, the first is ready for the operation, using a fast, forceps-guided method.

"In the past, they were doing one to two patients per hour, which is eight per doctor per day," said Dr Karin Hatzold, senior director of HIV services for PSI in Zimbabwe. "Now they can each do eight to 10 per hour, which is 40 per day."

Zimbabwe aims to circumcise at least 80 percent of all young men between 15 and 29 – a total of 1.2 million. However, only 13.7% of men under 49 are circumcised. "Zimbabwe is the country where male circumcision would have the highest impact," said Dr Karin Hatzold, senior director of HIV services for PSI in Zimbabwe. "The number of male circumcisions needed to avert one new infection is only seven. It could avert 40 per cent of all HIV infections."

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the campaign.