THE KwaZulu-Natal government has thrown its weight behind King Goodwill Zwelithini's plan to revive the custom of male circumcision as part of preventing the scourge of HIV.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize and health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo will hold a series of consultation meetings with various groups, starting on Wednesday.
The meeting on Wednesday will be attended by healthcare workers at Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
During the meeting, staff and healthcare workers will be motivated to "pull up their sleeves and heed the king's call", the health department said.
Zwelithini called for the revival of the male circumcision custom during the umkhosi wokweshwama (first fruit ceremony) held at his royal palace in December.
Dhlomo said a number of studies had shown that while male circumcision did not provide complete protection against HIV infection, it lowered the risk of heterosexual HIV transmission.
"Circumcised men still become infected with the virus and, if HIVpositive, can infect their sexual partners," he said.
Dhlomo said promoting and providing safe male circumcision did not replace other interventions to prevent heterosexual transmission of HIV but it provided an additional prevention.
"It is critical to ensure that clear and correct information on the continuing need for other HIV prevention measures is provided," he said.
It would be necessary to provide the correct information to prevent circumcised men from developing a false sense of security and engaging in high-risk sexual behaviours.
Dhlomo said Mkhize would consult all interested parties, including traditional leaders and civil society organisations, in the coming weeks.
It was not clear how the circumcisions would be conducted.
Botched circumcisions - particularly at illegal initiation schools - often lead to deaths and in December the death toll in the Eastern Cape's summer circumcision season was 24. - Sapa