King invites circumcised men to join new regiment in HIV war

2010-12-03 00:00

THE Zulu king has invited almost 18 000 men who have been circumcised in KwaZulu-Natal this year to form a special regiment to fight HIV and the abuse of women and children.

The regiment will be established this month at the annual uMkhosi wokweshwama (first fruit ceremony) held at King Goodwill Zwelithini’s palace.

KwaZulu-Natal is leading the mass roll-out of male medical circumcision in the country after studies found that circumcision cut men’s risk of HIV by some 50%.

Traditional male circumcision was abolished in KwaZulu-Natal by King Shaka, who felt he could not afford to let his warriors take time off for the ritual.

However, it was reintroduced in the province by King Zwelithini in April this year in a bid to prevent the spread of HIV in the country’s worst-hit province.

The province has been circumcising boys from the age of 15 and men at health facilities as well as at special weekend camps run together with traditional leaders.

A recent report by provincial authorities to the king stated that 17 690 men had been circumcised between April and November.

Provincial Premier Zweli Mkhize has cautioned that “care must be taken to ensure that men and women understand that the procedure does not provide complete protection against HIV infection”.

“Male circumcision must be considered as just one element of a comprehensive HIV prevention package that includes the correct and consistent use of male or female condoms, reductions in the number of sexual partners, delaying the onset of sexual relations and abstaining from penetrative sex,” Mkhize told the report-back meeting.

Nationally, the health department has declared that medical male circumcision is part of its HIV prevention campaign and a wide variety of groups have been involved in promoting it.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has called on other provinces to replicate the KZN initiative. — Health E-News.

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