Promoting Male Circumcision as HIV Prevention Method Should Be Done in Culturally Acceptable Ways, Zimbabwe’s Health Minister Says
Promoting male circumcision as an HIV prevention method should be done in culturally acceptable ways that minimize stigma associated with the procedure, Zimbabwe Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa said on Monday at the opening of the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Consultation on Safe Male Circumcision and HIV Prevention in Harare, Zimbabwe, the Herald/AllAfrica.com reports (Herald/AllAfrica.com, 5/8).
According to final data from two NIH-funded studies -- conducted in Uganda and Kenya and published in the Feb. 23 issue of the journal Lancet -- routine male circumcision could reduce a man's risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex by 65%. In response to the findings, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS in March recommended the procedure as a way to help reduce the spread of HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/16).
"There are many socio-cultural issues surrounding male circumcision that need to be addressed in order for it to adequately contribute to HIV prevention," Parirenyatwa said. According to Parirenyatwa, male circumcision does not provide complete protection against HIV. He added, "It should, therefore, be considered and implemented as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package" that includes HIV testing and counseling, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, promotion of safer-sex practices and condom distribution. According to Parirenyatwa, male circumcision should be promoted in a method that would ensure men do not stop using other prevention methods once they have undergone the procedure. He also noted that other challenges affect male circumcision programs in Africa, including the lack of adequate resources and weak health systems. According to WHO Zimbabwe representative Everisto Njelesani, the meeting is expected to help countries develop road maps with steps to consider and implement male circumcision in their HIV prevention programs (Herald/AllAfrica.com, 5/8).
Some African Countries Making Progress in Implementing Male Circumcision Into Health Policies, Programs, Officials Say
Some African countries are making progress toward implementing safe male circumcision into their national health policies and programs, health officials said Tuesday at the conference, Xinhua News Agency reports. According to some officials at the conference, the region's commitment to provide the procedure has helped prevent new HIV cases and has reduced AIDS-related deaths to manageable levels.
Kasande Bowa, assistant dean at the University of Zambia, on Tuesday said that male circumcision sites have been established countrywide. Kenyan HIV/AIDS adviser David Alnmick at the conference said the Kenyan government has influenced its male citizens to undergo modern circumcision by medical professionals. He added that the government is working closely with groups, including the Christian community, to promote the procedure. According to Xinhua News Agency, Swaziland and Malawi also have incorporated male circumcision into their HIV prevention programs, officials said. Other African countries -- including Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Uganda -- said the demand for the procedure is high, but they lack the resources to implement such programs affectively, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency, 5/8).