KZN to boost circumcision with U.S. funds

2016-12-14 06:02
United States ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard (front) and uMgungundlovu District Municipal Mayor Thobekile Maphumulo in an open dialogue with local traditional leaders discus the HIV/Aids pandemic in uMgungundlovu and possible solutions. Solutions discussed were furthering education about the disease and changing social norms to prevent further   infections. PHOTO: Jonathan Burton

United States ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard (front) and uMgungundlovu District Municipal Mayor Thobekile Maphumulo in an open dialogue with local traditional leaders discus the HIV/Aids pandemic in uMgungundlovu and possible solutions. Solutions discussed were furthering education about the disease and changing social norms to prevent further infections. PHOTO: Jonathan Burton

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WITH KZN deemed as an HIV/Aids high-risk area along with Gauteng and Mpumalanga, the three provinces are set to benefit from $24 million the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief will provide.

Rachael Rawlinson, chief operations officer at CareWorks, said the funding is prioritised to HIV/Aids prevalent areas­ and will be spent on the medical male circumcision (MMC) programme. It cames as welcome news on World Aids Day, and is projected to run over the next five years.

Rawlinson said MMC has been promoted as a way to curb the infection rate as it has been proven to reduce a man’s risk of contract- ing HIV through heterosexual sex by up to 60%.

“In a country like ours with nearly seven million people living with HIV, this cannot be ignored,” she said.

She said the Department of Health and other MMC partners have made a tremendous difference to the lives of the more than 2,3 million men who opted to be circumcised, a tremendous achievement in the fight against HIV.

Rawlinson said South Africa will soon reach a point where people on anti­retroviral treatment will outstrip new HIV infections, which signifies a turning point in the HIV epidemic.

“The next five years will see the national MMC programme adopt a more ambitious approach to fast-track medical male circumcision among HIV-negative males between the ages of 15 and 49 in an effort to achieve the new target,” said Rawlinson.

Rawlinson said there are many other benefits of male circumcision such as diminishing the risk of women contracting the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer and warts.

According to Rawlinson, by 2020, the World Health Organisation wants 25 million men across the 14 priority countries in Africa to be circumcised.

“This effectively means that the annual number of MMCs performed in these regions must more than double to reach the target.

“Achieving 80% MMC prevalence among sexually active men in the next few years, could avert 3,4 million HIV infections by 2025,” she said.

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