11 March 2008

Circumcision and Aids

clipped from www.thetimes.co.za
Circumcision is a cultural practice and should not be used as a preventative measure in the fight against HIV-Aids, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said yesterday.

It had therefore sought to discuss the matter with traditional leaders to “inform and enlighten all concerned”.

Tshabalala-Msimang told traditional leaders and healers that cultural practices should not be used for “purposes other than those for which they were meant for at the beginning”, her department said in a statement.

“She also called on all role-players to guard against sending confusing messages that would encourage people to get circumcised with the hope of not getting HIV infected,” it said.

The minister again called on traditional leaders to “assert their role” in the fight against HIV-Aids.

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The Minister's ideas on what should and should not be used in the fight against HIV/Aids have been pretty weird in the past. Circumcision has been practiced for various reasons, and male circumcision has often been practised because it was believed to be "healthy", though this is in itself a cultural belief.

One of the problems with using it in the fight against HIV/Aids is that it is believed to reduce the incidence of male infection, though does nothing to reduce the spread of infection from infected males. Thus circumcision could in fact encourage male promiscuity (because males think they are "safe") and do nothing to stop the general spread.

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