Anti-HIV snip for males in KZN

2010-01-20 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal government is to embark on a massive circumcision programme, encompassing four million men, to help curb the spread of Aids in the province, said the Premier Zweli Mkhize yesterday.

Mkhize was addressing more than 100 amakhosi from the province at the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg about a proposal by King Goodwill Zwelithini to revive the culture of circumcision to help fight the pandemic.

The culture was abandoned at least 200 years ago by King Shaka Zulu. He abolished the practice as he needed warriors for fighting and his warriors sometimes came back with septic wounds from their circumcisions and were unable to fight.

There are an estimated four million men in the province who are expected to undergo the procedure.

Mkhize said that by the end of this year, there should be a significant number of men who have been circumcised.

“We are already in negotiations with a number of other racial groups that already practise the culture and they have indicated their willingness to assist us.”

Mkhize said that hospitals could not be used as the primary base for the circumcisions because of the large numbers of men who will need to undergo the procedure.

He said that, depending on the discussion with amakhosi, the province will dispatch representatives to all the areas governed by amakhosi where they will set up camps to teach and carry out circumcisions in a safe and proper way.

“There are about four million men in the province that need to be circumcised; that is a lot of people,” said Mkhize.

“We cannot take these people to hospitals because there would be no room for other sick people, so we will be setting out tents and use community halls where the men can go and undergo the process.

“They would have to stay there for at least three days to monitor any complications that might arise during the procedure, such as bleeding and infections,” continued Mkhize.

He said one of the main challenges will be to ensure that all the practitioners are properly qualified because he does not want to see men losing their lives in the process.

He implored the amakhosi to be receptive to the call of reviving circumcision as their support is important in ensuring the circumcision project is carried out successfully.

Mkhize said the prevalence of HIV infection has reached crisis proportions, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, and the government has to employ a multitude of available strategies to remedy the situation.

He cited a number of studies shoing that male circumcision does not provide complete protection against HIV infection, but that it has helped to reduce infections. A 2005 study in South Africa found that male circumcision reduced the risk of acquiring HIV infection by 60%.

Two studies in Uganda produced similar results.


Numerous Amakhosi present at yesterday’s meeting to discuss circumcision hailed the decision saying it will not only help to curb the spread of Aids, but also to give the elders an opportunity to teach the young man about respect, honour, culture and manhood.

The resident of Pietermaritzburg agreed with the reinstating of the culture. Mandla Gwala said he was circumcised in 2001. “It a helpful procedure as it helps to reduce the chances of contracting an aids virus.”

Dumisani Lushozi and ANC councillor said the procedure would be very useful in combating diseases. “The culture has always been useful in fighting sexually transmitted deases and it will continue to do so.

IFP councillor Dolo Zodi said he was also in full support of the culture as long as it conforms to the way Zulu’s used to practise it. “I think this is a good thing and it will help a lot of people, however we should make sure that it is practised in the way the Zulu’s do it and we should not follow other cultures.

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