‘Circumcision reduces HIV infections 76% in South Africa, researchers find’, screamed the headline in the online Bloomberg news, taking its cue from the reported findings of a randomised, controlled intervention trial (RCT) conducted at Orange Farm, Gauteng. The findings were presented by French researcher Bertran Auvert et al. in July 2011 at an AIDS conference in Rome, showing that circumcision significantly reduced the risk of female-to-male transmission of HIV. ‘We are changing the social norm,’ Auvert gushed at a news conference. ‘It’s the first time in the world that we have a successful intervention in a community to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV between adults.’ University of the Witwatersrand researcher Francois Venter echoed the triumphant tone, telling the Bulletin of the WHO that ‘Male circumcision is the most powerful intervention we have at this point in time. One of [its] beauties is that it is a one-off operation which takes 15-20 minutes but then has a profound effect on the rest of a man’s life; whereas to promote condom use or microbicides, repeated long-term promotion is needed.’ The most powerful intervention? A lay listener might be forgiven for concluding that circumcision represents a silver bullet that renders conventional prevention strategies obsolete.