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Zimbabwe opens male circumcision clinics

THE Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is promoting male circumcision as part of measures to reduce HIV infection and will this month open male circumcision clinics in Bulawayo, Mutare and Mt Darwin.

According to the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Henry Madzorera, studies have shown that circumcision reduces the spread of the virus by up to 60 percent.

“We are advocating for male circumcision as part of measures to control the spread of HIV. Studies which have been done have shown that circumcision reduces the spread of HIV by up to 60 percent and a number of countries have embraced male circumcision as a strategy to control the spread of HIV,” he said.

A male circumcision clinic is already running in Harare at Spilhaus, at the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council centre, while in Bulawayo a clinic will be opened at the Eye Clinic situated at the Old Memorial Hospital at the end of this month.

Clinics will also be opened at Mutare Provincial Hospital and Karanda Hospital in Mt Darwin by month-end.

Dr Madzorera said his Ministry was currently training doctors and other health practitioners on how to use surgical equipment during circumcision.

According to information released by the National AIDS Council, male circumcision is generally uncommon among the majority of Shona and Ndebele-speaking groups.

It is estimated that around 10 percent of Zimbabwean men are currently circumcised.

Some of the circumcised men underwent the procedure for religious or cultural reasons.

Other than reducing chances of men becoming infected with HIV during heterosexual intercourse by 60 percent, circumcision also offers partial protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Information from the NAC also says circumcision reduces cancer of the male organ, urinary tract infections in children and cervical cancer in women whose partners are circumcised.

Circumcised men also find it easier to maintain penile hygiene.

According to NAC, the skin on the head of the male organ becomes harder after circumcision and is less likely to tear or bruise, making it more difficult for HIV to enter.

An uncircumcised man’s foreskin is soft and moist and is more likely to tear or get small bruises and sores that allow HIV and other sexually transmitted infections to enter the body more easily.

The NAC, however, says even after circumcision, HIV can still enter the male organ but it is much more difficult for the virus to survive.

“Because male circumcision does not provide complete protection, circumcised men should continue to use other HIV prevention strategies, including abstinence, reduction in the number of sexual partners, correct and consistent use of male and female condoms and knowledge of status,” says NAC.

Male circumcision is relatively safe, with a low rate of complications, most of which are immediately and easily treated.

There are no major risks associated with the operation when it is performed by a trained person under hygienic conditions.

The wound should heal within a period of six weeks.

Newly circumcised men should abstain from sex for about six weeks to ensure that the male organ is fully healed, as they could be at increased risk of infection during this period.chronicles