175 Zimbabwean Legislators Set To Be Circumcised

Male circumsicion in Zimbabwe Hundreds of Zimbabwean MPs will be circumcised by the end of June in an attempt to popularise the cut as a viable HIV/Aids prevention method.

The 175 legislators would also undergo HIV tests and counselling, the chairperson of Parliamentarians Against HIV/Aids (ZIPAH) group, Mr Blessing Chebundo, told NewsDay newspaper Friday.

“We will walk the talk as role models and lead by example to embark on voluntary HIV testing and male circumcision, as well as to inspire young people to do the same,” he said.

“We need to go down to constituencies, provinces, districts, wards and villages as ZIPAH to spread messages to fight HIV/Aids and encourage males to undergo voluntary circumcision,” Mr Chebundo added.

He said 20 MPs had already booked appointments for circumcision at various centres set up by government and donors.

“Almost 175 MPs who are members of ZIPAH are in support of this and also 25 members of staff at Parliament,” he said.

“We are still updating the list of volunteers. Obviously female MPs are not going for male circumcision, but we have encouraged their spouses to join us.”

Waste of resources

Previous studies have indicated that male circumcision reduces the risk of men contracting HIV during heterosexual intercourse by about 60 per cent.

But experts have warned that circumcision should not replace other prevention methods.

In 2009, Zimbabwe launched a massive circumcision drive targeting at least 1.2 million men.

Last year the government encouraged cabinet ministers and MPs to join the exercise in order to popularise it.

However, during debate on the pledge by the legislators to undergo circumcision on Friday, some MPs felt it was a waste of resources as most of them were now “too old”.

“HIV should be a syllabus for the youths at a tender age – not to tell us here in Parliament when I am already 65 years old and you tell me to go and get circumcised when I have sired 18 children without circumcision,” one, Mr Magalela Sibanda, was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world.

However, the rates have declined dramatically from 29 per cent of the population in 1997 to just over 14 per cent last year.

Africa Review

  1. Hugh7 Reply

    In Zimbabwe in 2005, USAID found 14.2% of non-circumcised men had HIV compared to 16.6% of circumcised men. (Similar differencess apply in 10 of 18 countries for which it has figures.) Shouldn’t this at least be explained before blundering on with mass circumcision programmes? Clearly what seemed to work in clinical trials does not necessarily work in the real world. One reason could be here: http://tinyurl.com/7deqtap The experimenters did not correct nearly well enough for non-sexual transmission, especially through contaminated surgical instruments.

    The much-touted “60% HIV reduction” figure only applies to female-to-male transmission – if any. A study in Uganda started to find that circumcising men INcreases the risk to women (who are already at greater risk), but they stopped the study for no good reason before that could be confirmed.

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