HIV fight moves to varsity

KWAZULU-NATAL took circumcision to another level yesterday, when more than 200 students from the University of Zululand were circumcised.

The students, between the ages of 18 and 29, were circumcised at a camp on the university premises.

Provincial MEC for health Sibongiseni Dhlomo said: "In 1990 HIV prevalence in this country was below 5percent. Today it hovers around 29percent and between 30 and 45percent in the various districts of this province.

"Two years ago three districts, eThekwini, Umgungundlovu and Amajuba,had a prevalence rate above 40percent. Today there are five, including uThungulu district.

"This shows something went wrong in the country and mainly in KwaZulu-Natal," Dhlomo said.

The camp is being held to scale up the department's campaign targeting young men (18 to 45 years) that was launched in April.

The launch followed a historic call by King Goodwill Zwelithini that circumcision be considered part of the prevention strategy against HIV infections.

Dhlomo said young men and women should finish primary school without being infected, except for those born to mothers, who were HIV positive during pregnancy.

He said as soon as girls entered high school the prevalence rate in women between the ages of 15 and 20 years rose dramatically.

"This shows that most women make their sexual debut at high school. What is strange is that their male peers remain negative, except for about 10percent of them, until the age of 20 to 25 years.

"It can only mean that girls are having sexual relations with older men, (30 to 40 years), who infect them," Dhlomo said.

He said as a result young women at this age start to have relations with their peers, who had had sexual relations with older men and contracted the disease.

The province has circumcised more than 10000 men without any complications or deaths being reported so far.

In the uMkhanyakude district 40 traditional leaders were last week circumcised at their request as champions of the campaign.

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