Wednesday, July 25, 2007

But wait, another circumcision story!

Circumcise and use condoms

For sure, circumcised men should not throw away condoms.

"Even with circumcised men, safe sex practices should be encouraged. Crcumcision may have a huge impact at societal level, it may not be so at individual level if misused," warns Professor Robert Bailey.

Professor Bailey - one of key speakers at the 4th IAS Conference in Sydney, Australia - has been involved in circumcision-related issues in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia and the United States of America since 1995.

Over all, it has been found that circumcision reduces infection rates by about 50 to 60 percent. Interestingly, it is in Sub-Saharan Africa where HIV has so far hit most, accounting for over 40 percent of the world's infections.

Bailey's fears are embedded in the fact that men generally do not like condoms. And with revelations of this rate of reduction in infection rates, it is feared some 'rude' circumcised men would want to have their women believe they need no artificial covering because, after all, they have a "natural remedy."

This is what the Professor of the Epidemiology at the School of Public Health of the University of Illinois, in the US, wants to highlight.

Professor Bailey, who is also a Research Associate at the Field Museum in Chicago, believes that proper education needs to be attached to advocacy for widespread male circumcision, particularly in tribes that do not culturally circumcise.

It is known that to many tribes in Africa, male circumcision is a norm at puberty, as a way of initiating boys into manhood. But the bad thing is: it's done in bushes to the detriment of the boys, some of whom bleed profusely and even die.

This is where advocates' emphasis should lie, for, according to Professor Bailey, a good number of clinical officers at health centres in these countries are not good enough in carrying out circumcision.

But, if properly done to a proportional number of males, it is likely to avert HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa, claims the medic-cum-academician.

All in all, his message today has been: circumcise and abide by all prevention measures, including using condoms properly.

- report by Ansbert Ngurumo

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