South Africa Is Seen to Lag in HIV Fight
July 20, 2009
At a French-financed clinic in Orange Farm, South Africa, thousands of young men are flocking to be circumcised. The surgical procedure can reduce the chance of female-to-male HIV transmission by up to 60 percent, and two years ago the World Health Organization recommended it especially for countries facing generalized epidemics. Some African governments are actively supporting male circumcision campaigns, but South Africa's is not among them.
"Anything that could help save lives needs to be tried," said Prime Minister Raila Odinga, a circumcised member of the Luo tribe. While the Luo do not generally circumcise males, Odinga has advocated the procedure and encouraged tribal elders' support.
In South Africa, Zulus have not typically circumcised males since the early 19th century, when the practice ended during prolonged warfare, said Daniel Halperin, an epidemiologist and medical anthropologist at Harvard University.
South Africa's Department of Health is now devising a policy on male circumcision and will be inviting discussion by the end of the month, said Dr. Yogan Pillay, a senior department official.
New York Times
07.20.2009; Celia W. Dugger
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.