BID TO FIGHT HIV SPREAD
A TEAM of MECs led by KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize is expected to unveil the department of health's plan to scale up circumcision services at public health facilities.
The move is part of a government campaign to bring back the custom of male circumcision in an attempt to prevent the spread of HIV and Aids.
The government response comes after Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini called for the revival of the the custom during Umkhosi wokweshwama (first fruit ceremony) last month.
A number of studies have shown that while male circumcision does not provide complete protection against HIV infection, it lowers the risk of heterosexual HIV transmission.
However, circumcised men still become infected with the virus and, if HIV-positive, can still infect their sexual partners.
Provincial MEC for health Sibongiseni Dhlomo said promoting and providing safe male circumcision did not replace other interventions to prevent heterosexual transmission of HIV but 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," Dhlomo said.
"This will be necessary to prevent men developing a false sense of security and engaging in high-risk sexual behaviours which could undermine the partial protection provided by male circumcision."
Mkhize's team will start consulting all stakeholders today to ensure that "careful, balanced information and education underlies the roll-out of a male circumcision campaign in the province".
The team will also meet amakhosi at Pietermaritzburg Royal Show Grounds tomorrow.
Mkhize, Dhlomo and MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs Nomusa Dube have introduced the initiative.
Zwelithini indicated that the circumcision custom would also involve health practitioners.