Circumcision no longer just a cultural act

Circumcision is no longer just a cultural act as it used to be in Africa but a vital HIV and AIDS prevention tool for the continent, which has the highest ADS prevalence in the world.

Demand for circumcision has put pressure on health institutions in the continent which still lack adequate qualified medical personnel to conduct the simple procedure. Researchers say circumcision has 60 percent guaranteed chances of preventing the spread of HIV.

Circumcision is the cutting of the foreskin of the penis for the sake of preventing Sexually Transmitted diseases (STI), HIV contraction and for the sole reason of cleanliness, thereby giving Multi-Health advantages to female partners. Traditionally before the advent of HIV, (STI) Sexually transmitted diseases were the main veneral diseases for which circumcision was performed.

In the nostalgic days culturally cutting of the foreskin was performed through surgical traditional scientific processes of using the razor blade and a cloth, water and traditional medicine. African Writer of Kenyan born origin Ngugi Wa Thiongo now living in exile in United States of America wrote a book the River Between in which mythologically is incuculated with the theme centred on circumcision as cultural values of Kenya. In the enthralling novel Waiyaki was barred from marrying the girl he loved because he was uncircumcised.

Secondly he lived in another village on the other side of the river where circumcision was an abomination. In the culture rich novel Ngugi explores the well being of male children in the African Society circumcised for fulfilling cultural norms.

Traditional Healer Sekuru Gama Phiri of Nyabira in Zimbabwe explained that circumcision was seen as an African way of defining Africanism of distinct ethnical values and the symbol of tolerance, recognition and acceptance in the society.

During my boyhood living in Malawi being uncircumcised in my village situated North of the country was against cultural laws. Those not circumcised were seen as unclean and outcast. A complete Human being was one circumcised he said.

Today in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia and the Middle East, countries with high prevalence rate, circumcision stand vital in HIV and AIDS response. A number of countries around the world traditionally practice circumcision. Good examples are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, India, South Africa and in the Middle East.

A Zimbabwean medical official said a number of hospitals in Zimbabwe among them, Karanda in Mount Darwin were already embarking on programmes based on medical practices of circumcision, which has been proved worldwide effective in reducing the prevalence of HIV and AIDS by almost 60%.

Such programmes are expected to take place in Zimbabwe countrywide because they have been vital in reducing the escalation of HIV and AIDS by almost 60%. The medical processes do not take long practically in the surgery, but what are needed are highly qualified medical doctors who work with experienced personnel. Men should not resume sexual intercourse for at least 6 weeks after …the healing process is complete, that is after complete recuperation, he said.

The health official highlighted the difference between circumcision and female genital mutilation, which is the cutting of the clitoris of a female reproductive part inside the vagina ,which stimulates or arouse sexual intercourse.

This is called Clitoridictomy. Though known to reduce sexual female virility, it is not recommended for reasons pertaining to pang of pain felt when practiced on women.Once done to men, circumcision reduces the transmission of the virus which can penetrate into women, that is when the male partner is HIV positive. Simultaneously the male partner cannot sometimes contract the virus from the female sexual partner.

However it has been learnt that HIV positive men must not be circumcised, although reasons for this are still to be explored further. It is believed HIV positive men are at a risk of complications following surgery. Male circumcision is performed two weeks after birth or during adolescence in most cases. Circumcision is multi-dimensional for it helps prevent urinary tract infections especially in children. Urinary tract infections are common problem in children because of their kidney system.

Research has also shown that circumcision reduces cervical cancer in women whose male partners were circumcised. Cervical cancer is one of the major killer diseases which are related to HIV and AIDS. Therefore it is an Opportunistic Infection.

Circumcision also improves hygiene in men and to their partners. It also reduces the high rate of cancer of the penis. Circumcision hardens and thickens the penis skin. HIV penetration becomes difficult. Since HIV survives more in blood and fluids or where there are scars, HIV spreads faster and easier.

HIVI and II are threats in Sub-Saharan Africa in which 27,5 to 30 million are HIV positive, 22-23 million have died in Southern Africa, 8-10 million in West and North Africa. Around the world 10-15 million have died. This brings the figure exponentially to 40-45 million.

The prevalence of circumcised men varies greatly from as low as 15% of Southern Africa to more, 70% in parts of East Africa such as Kenya. The three quantitative trials in Southern America, East Africa, South East Asia and South Africa revealed between 2007 and 2006 that male circumcision is an effective scientific medical practice which can reduce HIV AIDS by almost 60% without failure.

Editor’s note: Nevson is a Sundry HIV and AIDS Research Journalist and Curricular published prolific Poet and upcoming Novelist. He has published with many SADC Newspapers.

Post published in: Opinions

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