Awareness Programs Needed Before Mass Male Circumcision Can Be Introduced in Uganda, Opinion Piece Says
It is "important" that Uganda's Ministry of Health "conducts mass sensitization campaigns throughout the country to educate people about the benefits and limits of male circumcision" in preventing the spread of HIV, Joseph Matovu of Makerere University's School of Health writes in a New Vision opinion piece. According to Matovu, recent research about male circumcision is "good ground" to argue for widespread, "medically performed" adult male circumcision in Uganda, where the HIV prevalence has remained at about 6% since 2000 and the "percentage of circumcised men in traditionally non-circumcising communities ranges between" 8% and 40%. He continues, "The good news is most men and their partners favor circumcision, citing medical, hygiene and sexual-related reasons."
Matovu cites an assessment conducted by Family Health International and the health ministry, which found that between 40% and 62% of "uncircumcised men interviewed reported that they would be willing to accept male circumcision if it was offered to them." In addition, women interviewed "emphasized the role that male circumcision would play in improving men's penile hygiene as well as reducing the incidence of sexually transmitted infections." These findings "suggest that male circumcision is a welcome intervention in the fight against HIV in Uganda," Matovu continues. He writes that the promotion of male circumcision should "take into account the fears in the population that circumcised men might become more promiscuous than ever before," adding that both circumcised men and their partners should be "strongly encouraged to continue to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection through available prevention strategies," including abstinence, fidelity, and "correct and consistent condom use."
Matovu continues that men must be educated on the need to abstain from sex for the recommended six weeks after circumcision, as research suggests that between 14% and 17% of newly circumcised men resume sex within two to three weeks after surgery. He writes that it also is "important to remember that medical male circumcision does not automatically protect women" from contracting HIV. He adds, "[I]n order for male circumcision to yield the desired protective effect, a significant portion of adult males would need to get circumcised. Circumcision of a scattered few individuals will not give us the change we need" (Matovu, New Vision, 1/14).