On Thursday June 2nd we went to visit Dr. Bob Bailey at his clinic in Kisumu. He is the world’s top researcher on male circumcision for HIV prevention and as we learned he has done some incredible research and community work. He conducted random testing to see whether or not male circumcision affected HIV prevalence rates or not. What he found in this research was so profound that he had to stop mid-project and turn the research into a community intervention. If he hadn’t it would’ve been unethical because the information he gathered made it clear that circumcision played such a huge role in whether or not men contracted HIV. I don’t remember the exact numbers but I know that since the community intervention started Dr. Bailey’s clinic has performed hundreds of thousands of circumcisions and therefore prevented countless cases of HIV. I think I remember him saying that his research proved that circumcision decreases the chance of contracting HIV seven-fold. It was really incredible to be around somebody who conducted such life-changing research.
After our visit at his clinic, we went down the street to another clinic and we actually got to see a circumcision procedure. We went in groups of five and all got to witness a procedure. For a procedure like this in a clinic, they use local anesthesia but all I could think about while watching the procedure was how many people get circumcised without anesthesia throughout the country. It looked so painful and I actually had to leave the room because I was feeling nauseous.
I went outside to get some air and a kid a few years older than me walked up to me and shook my hand. He introduced himself and we started talking and then I asked if I could ask him some questions for a research paper I was working on. He said of course, and went on to tell me all about his expectations for the next election and how he was affected by the violence after the last election. He said that he was from Nakuru and that he lost his brother and his mother, and all his family’s land due to the violence in ’08. He was left with his little sister and his brothers baby to take care of and has lived in an IDP camp in Kisumu, hundreds of miles from his home, since early 2008. It was an awful story to hear but it was really inspiring that despite his struggles he was still working as a volunteer at the clinic.