Repeated Use of Unsterilized Blades in Ritual Circumcision Might Contribute to HIV Spread in South Africa, Doctors Say
July 6, 2005
Doctors are concerned that ritual circumcision practices performed on adolescent boys as a rite of passage in South Africa might be spreading HIV through the repeated use of unsterilized blades, the Baltimore Sun reports. The practice, which is performed by a traditional surgeon without anesthesia, is meant to reinforce the belief that "real men can endure pain," but hundreds of boys have died or been maimed by the procedure, leading provincial health officials to criticize the tradition, the Sun reports. "We can imagine in some communities about 20% of boys going off to the bush [for circumcision] will be HIV-positive," Graeme Meintjes, an AIDS specialist in Cape Town, South Africa, who has written a book on ritual circumcision, said, adding, "It's an extremely high risk" (Calvert, Baltimore Sun, 7/6).
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