Zwelithini revives snip to help fight HIV and Aids

08 December 2009 - 02:00
By Mhlaba Memela

COSATU has applauded King Goodwill Zwelithini's historic decision to revive the practice of circumcision among young Zulu men as part of the national campaign to reduce the spread of HIV-Aids.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said Zwelithini's decision could lead to a substantial reduction in HIV infections, especially in KwaZulu-Natal which has the highest incidence in the country.

Zwelithini announced the decision during Umkhosi wokweshwama at eNyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma at the weekend. The practice was banned by King Shaka, who believed it took young warriors away from their military duties.

Craven said for the rate of infections to come down, responsible sexual behaviour and the use of condoms was just as necessary for circumcised men.

"The king is prepared to end nearly two centuries of tradition in the interest of saving lives, and the federation notes that the practice of circumcision among Zulus will be done by medical practitioners to avoid unnecessary deaths."

In 2006, 39,1percent of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in KwaZulul-Natal were HIV-positive, according to government statistics.

Infant and child mortality rates had also increased in South Africa in recent decades, to an estimated 60 per 1000 and 95 per 1000 respectively in 2000.

This increase is attributable to the prevalence of HIV among children, with more than 50percent of child deaths being because of HIV-Aids.

Clinical trials in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda have found that men who have been circumcised are up to 60percent less likely to become infected with HIV.