The PrePex device

Developed in 2009/10 by Fuerst, Kilemnick & Shohat and marketed by the company Circ MedTech Limited, PrePex is a non-surgical medical device for male circumcision currently (2014) in use as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It has been scientifically validated that circumcised men reduce their risk of acquiring HIV infection through heterosexual intercourse by 60% to 70%. Based on this evidence, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) recommended in 2007 that voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) be offered as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy in geographic areas with high prevalence of heterosexually transmitted HIV and low prevalence of male circumcision.

As a result UNAIDS and WHO in partnership with The US President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank, announced an accelerated plan to scale up VMMC to approximately 20 million men in 13 target countries in Sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2015, with the objective of saving roughly 3.4 million lives and US$16.5 billion due to averted treatment and care.

In order to provide the tools necessary to reach that goal, Circ MedTech developed the PrePex device to facilitate safe, simple, scalable and cost effective non-surgical adult male circumcision as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention plan.

Device components and procedure


The device is disposable and comprised of four elements: Placement Ring, Inner Ring, Elastic Ring and a Verification Thread. The device stops the flow of blood to the foreskin tissue, due to the compressive force of the elastic ring. This initiates ischemic necrosis and the dead foreskin tissue naturally detaches or is easily removed after 7 days. The overall time for healing is 6 weeks, during which no sexual activity is permitted.

The device is not for self-use. The procedure has been clinically validated and peer reviewed as safe in the hands of low cadre nurses, who conduct the bloodless procedure in non-sterile settings in approximately 4½ minutes, without the need for injected anesthesia or sutures. PrePex is currently available in 5 different ring sizes.

A video illustrating the PrePex procedure is available on the company’s website.

The PrePex device should not be used in cases of phimosis or congenital abnormality.

Regulatory issues
PrePex is WHO prequalified, FDA cleared and certified CE Mark Class IIa. Circ MedTech is ISO 13485 certified.

Known use (as at February 2014)
PrePex is being used in 13 priority countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with high HIV prevalence and as such, the device is not yet available elsewhere.








South Africa






The Rwanda Ministry of Health, Uganda Department of Health, and the Zimbabwe Department of Health have adopted PrePex as an integral part of their national health programs. Rwanda is the first country to begin scale-up in February 2014 with a national campaign to circumcise 700,000 men. South Africa, Kenya, Zambia and Mozambique are in advanced stages for scale up. Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia are running acceptability pilots.

Clinical Trials, Safety & Efficacy studies
The PrePex device was originally validated for safety and efficacy by the Government of Rwanda. Details were published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS), edition date 08.September.2011. The study was audited on-site by WHO and Gates Foundation delegates.
To assess the safety and efficacy of the PrePex device for nonsurgical circumcision in adult males as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention program in Rwanda.
The entire procedure was bloodless, requiring no anesthesia, no suturing, and no sterile settings. Subjects had no sick/absent days associated with the procedure. Median time for complete healing was 21 days after device removal.
The PrePex device was safe and effective for nonsurgical adult male circumcision without anesthesia or sterile settings and may be useful in mass circumcision programs to reduce the risk of HIV infection, particularly in resource-limited settings.

A comparative study followed, entitled HIV Prevention: Male Circumcision Comparison Between a Non-surgical Device to a Surgical Technique in Resource-Limited Settings: A Prospective, Randomized, Nonmasked Trial.
The study was designed to compare a new non-surgical device with surgical MC to assess nonsurgical male circumcision (MC) suitability for scale-up.
Prospective, randomized controlled trial in Rwanda in which the PrePex device was used for nonsurgical MC and the dorsal-slit method for surgical MC (ratio: 2:1). Subjects were healthy adult male volunteers aged 21–54 years. The primary endpoint, set by World Health Organization, was to determine total MC procedure time.
Of 217 eligible subjects, 144 were randomized to the PrePex/nonsurgical arm and 73 to the surgical arm. All subjects were circumcised in 10 working days. Nonsurgical MC with mean procedure time of 3.1 minutes (skin to skin), was significantly shorter than mean surgical procedure time (15.4 minutes skin to skin) (P < 0.0001).
PrePex, the nonsurgical MC, takes significantly less time than surgical, is as safe, does not require injections or sterile settings, is bloodless and seems to be suitable for nurses.
Click here to read the report.

Next came a study intended to determine the skill level required for ad-hoc trainees, entitled One-Arm, Open-Label, Prospective, Cohort Field Study to Assess the Safety and Efficacy of the PrePex Device for Scale-Up of Nonsurgical Circumcision When Performed by Nurses in Resource-Limited Settings for HIV Prevention.
To assess the safety and efficacy of the PrePex device when circumcision is performed by lower cadre nurses.
All 518 subjects from the pilot and pivotal phases achieved complete circumcision. There were 5 Adverse Events (AEs) on 4 subjects (rate of 0.96%, 95% confidence interval: 0.31 to 2.24). All AEs were moderate and were resolved with simple intervention.
The study demonstrated that circumcision performed by nurses using the PrePex device is safe, effective, and easy to train. PrePex has the potential to help facilitate rapid, safe, non-physician male circumcision scale-up programs for HIV prevention.
Click here to read the Abstract. There is also a pay-per-view link to the full text.

Manufacturer’s claimed advantages and benefits
•   No surgery
•   No injected anesthesia
•   No blood
•   No cutting of live tissue
•   No sutures
•   No sterile settings
•   Safe
•   Faster than surgical surgery (average time of procedure 4½ minutes)
•   Reported less painful than surgical procedure
•   Better aesthetic results than surgical procedure
•   No loss of work days for the patient
•   Not visible under clothing and does not interrupt everyday activities (except sex! - Editor)
•   Comes in a range of sizes
•   Can be conducted by low cadre staff
•   Easy to train
•   Cost effective
•   A scalable and sustainable solution for African countries

Questions and Answers about the PrePex device
Here are some questions raised in "Letters to the Editor" along with the answers given by Circ MedTech. To read additional frequently asked questions about PrePex, visit

In April 2012, PrePex won the Best Technology for Health Award and has also found favour with WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Innovations in Male Circumcision.

In May 2013 the US Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Eric P. Goosby stated, “...PEPFAR is ready to support countries that wish to introduce PrePepex™ right away. This will truly help save lives.”

PrePex was also featured on the BBC Health Show on July 2011 in a special episode about male circumcision.

In 2015 Prepex won the Sutter Health Prize, one of the annual Tech Awards chosen by the Tech Museum of Innovation. These awards are all about making things better in third world countries. The ceremony is on 12th November, 2015 in San José, California. Read about the awards at The Tech Awards website.

The following resources were used in the preparation of this web page:
BVI flag Manufacturer’s website and personal correspondence with the CEO.
UN flag WIPO logo Record for the multinational patent application WO2011007358 (A2).
USA flag CROI logo Proceedings of the 18th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections Paper #1007.
USA flag New York Times logo New York Times, 31st January 2012, Section D, Page 1.
AllAfrica logo  news report dated 22.April.2012.

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