Dr Nomonde Xundu, head of government’s HIV/AIDS programme, says although she has seen reports on male circumcision reducing the rate of HIV infection there is still more to be done before embarking on policy formulation.

“We have noted some research about male circumcision. We are going to look at how the research was conducted and on how they [researchers] came up with their findings. We also need to look at whether these findings are strong enough to form a policy.”

Meanwhile, Dr Wezi Kaunda, son of the former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda and head of the Kenneth Kaunda Children’s Foundation says although he is impressed with some of the findings on male circumcision he believes that a holistic approach is the way to go in dealing with the pandemic.

“We should not make it too simple because we will again be making more mistakes. Our job [is to ask ourselves] can we contain the virus? Can we stop the virus? That is what is important for South Africa, Africa and for Zambia. We now have the means, we have the drugs, the knowledge and the man power,” he said.

However, some experts have warned that more studies need to be conducted on male circumcision especially in the light of countries such as Lesotho which has the highest number of circumcised men – and is counted among the countries with the highest number of HIV positive people in the world.

Dr Molotsi Monyamane, Executive Director of the Health Lifestyle Clinic and Diabetes Centre in Lesotho believes that rather than promoting male circumcision, male gathering rituals in the mountains where traditional circumcisions are conducted should be used to educate men on HIV prevention.

“If we can go in there to empower those men to know that a real man is somebody who respects his partner who does not beat them up, who does not fight, who does not rape, then we would have gone a long way towards prevention,” he said.

According to Dr Eftyhia Vardas, director of the HIV/AIDS division at the Peri-natal HIV/AIDS Research Unit (PHRU) in Soweto,”having circumcision might add an extra little protection in case there is an accident, but condoms are the way to go to protect yourself”.

More than 2,000 HIV-negative, uncircumcised men between the ages of 18 and 24 participated in clinical trials in Kenya. Half the men were randomly assigned to receive circumcision, and the other half remained uncircumcised for two years.

Although all the men in the trial increased their condom use and reduced the number of their sexual partners, at the end of two years 47 of the uncircumcised men had contracted HIV compared to 22 of the circumcised men.

Mabutho Ngcobo

Health-e News Service

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