Cosatu backs circumcision

I N I T I AT E S : King Goodwill Zwelithini wants to revive circumcision in the Zulu nation using medical doctors in the ritual to avoid deaths. Pic: Justine Gerady. 01/10/2001. © Sowetan.
SW20010110TKA001:NEWS:PEOPLE:10JAN2001 - A success story : Hundred of boys are sent to Malibhunga Nonbinjana's circumcision school during the June and December school holidays. The school has a zero fatality rate. PHOTO BY: JUSTINE GERARDY/DISPATCH
I N I T I AT E S : King Goodwill Zwelithini wants to revive circumcision in the Zulu nation using medical doctors in the ritual to avoid deaths. Pic: Justine Gerady. 01/10/2001. © Sowetan. SW20010110TKA001:NEWS:PEOPLE:10JAN2001 - A success story : Hundred of boys are sent to Malibhunga Nonbinjana's circumcision school during the June and December school holidays. The school has a zero fatality rate. PHOTO BY: JUSTINE GERARDY/DISPATCH

COSATU has welcomed Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini's announcement this weekend that he supports medical male circumcision and will encourage his subjects to undergo the procedure, which could prevent up to 60percent of men acquiring HIV.

COSATU has welcomed Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini's announcement this weekend that he supports medical male circumcision and will encourage his subjects to undergo the procedure, which could prevent up to 60percent of men acquiring HIV.

Zwelithini announced at the controversial bull killing - ukweshwama - in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, on Saturday that he was going to revive circumcision in the Zulu nation and that medical doctors would be involved in the ritual.

The South African National Aids Council and the health department are in the process of finalising the country's policy and guidelines on medical male circumcision, which will be added to the HIV-prevention basket.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven quoted clinical trials from Kenya, South Africa and Uganda that had found that men who have been circumcised are up to 60percent less likely to become infected with HIV.

"The king's decision could therefore lead to a substantial reduction in HIV infections, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, which currently has the highest incidence," Craven said.

Traditional circumcision was banned by King Shaka, who believed the time it took to heal kept too many young warriors away from their military duties in his army.

"But King Zwelithini has been 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," Craven said.

Cosatu agreed with KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize, who has said that though circumcision would assist in the fight against the pandemic it "on its own does not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases".

"For the rate of infection to come down responsible sexual behaviour and the use of condoms is just as necessary for circumcised men," the trade union said.

It called on all sections of society to re-examine all their cultural practices in the light of the HIV-Aids threat and to ask, for example, whether the normal age for circumcision of 22 to 24 is not far too late to prevent infection among boys who become sexually active many years earlier. - Health-e News

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