June 15, 2011
South Africa is getting assistance in battling its HIV/AIDS epidemic thanks to a delegation of Jewish and Muslim mohels, who will help train health care providers in performing male circumcisions, the Israeli Ma'ariv daily reported Monday.
Male circumcision is an ancient practice in both religions. The Old Testament calls for "Brit Mila," the Hebrew term for the procedure, on a male's eighth day of life. In recent years, several studies have shown that male circumcision can reduce the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by around 60 percent. Studies also show it lowers the chances of contracting some other diseases.
In 2008, eight medical organizations launched the Abraham Operation, in which physicians travel to African countries hard-hit by AIDS and teach local caregivers how to perform the procedure. Jerusalem AIDS Project is one of the groups supporting the project.
Israeli providers acquired experience in circumcising adult males following an immigration wave from the former Soviet Union during the 1990s. Many men requested the procedure in order to enter the Jewish covenant.
The new delegation will travel to South Africa in the coming months, focusing its efforts on Zulu tribe providers. Nurses and midwifes will be instructed on infant male circumcision. However, South African law currently does not allow for the procedure in infants for any reason. An upcoming conference in Durban is expected to address this hurdle and promote new legislation that will allow for infant circumcision.