Honour over circumcision

THE 18000 men circumcised recently in KwaZulu-Natal are to be honoured by being conferred the status of a regiment.

Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini has invited the men to his palace for the honouring. It is scheduled to take place next week Friday.

The king sees the circumcision programme in the province as an important campaign against HIV-Aids.

More than a million of the country's estimated 5,5million HIV-positive people live in KwaZulu-Natal. The province has the highest HIV prevalence in the country.

It has been tradition before for the king to honour important achievements of groups by naming them regiments.

Historically, male circumcision has been practised for various reasons, including hygiene, religion, tradition and culture.

In late 2006, two randomised controlled trials on whether male circumcision reduces HIV transmission were halted because interim results showed an overwhelming protective effect, validating the results from an earlier South African trial conducted at Orange Farm. Based on the weight of the evidence from both observational studies and randomised trials, public health leaders have concluded that male circumcision - when performed by well-trained and well-equipped health professionals - can significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection among adult men, and thus the number of new infections a year.

Provincial department of health spokesperson Chris Maxon said the king had invited all circumcised males to come to his palace during the Ukweshwama ritual next week. The Ukweshwama ritual is where men kill a bull with their bare hands.