Bophelo Pele originated from the initial ANRS funded Medical Male Circumcision research dating back to 2001. At the time Bophelo Pele was a project under Progressus Research and Development Consultancy. With further funding from the ANRS and eventually also funding from USAID, it evolved as a reference centre for VMMC and origin for the well-known “MOVE” Model implemented by so many VMMC programs. Dr Taljaard and Dr Mabena recently left CHAPS and have revived this entity in Orange Farm, it had its origins there, was named by the community and will in the future continue to serve the community of Orange Farm.
A visit by Bill Gates in 2009
This site was visited in 2009 by Bill Gates and he concluded in his “2010 Annual letter from Bill Gates“:
“Another approach to reduce the spread of HIV is male circumcision. I mentioned in last year’s letter that studies have shown that male circumcision reduces the odds of transmission from a woman to a man by over 60 percent. In areas where transmission is widespread, if you circumcise most of the men over 14 years old you can significantly reduce the spread of HIV. The foundation funded pilot efforts to scale up circumcision, but I viewed it as high-risk because I was doubtful that enough men would volunteer to be circumcised. That is why last December I went to visit Bertran Auvert, a French scientist working in a South African township called Orange Farm. Bertran conducted one of the key studies on the effectiveness of circumcision, and now he has set out to show that doubters like me are wrong.
He and his co-leader, Dirk Taljaard, are modest about their work but, amazingly, they are getting over 750 men a month to come to their facility. They have already circumcised 14,000 men, and within a year they think they will be able to circumcise almost all of the men in the community. It looks like a very high percentage will participate. Bertran’s approach is very efficient, with costs of only $40 for the surgery. Based on this success, a number of facilities are being set up in South Africa and in other countries with high HIV prevalence to do the same thing. In many African countries, if a high percentage of men volunteer for circumcision, it will reduce the number of cases at least 30 percent over time, which shows what an impact a great scientist like Bertran can have.”
This visit and subsequent support greatly enhanced efforts at the time to get VMMC properly funded and implemented in 14 priority countries in Africa.