By Ayanda Sithole
It is the season for traditional circumcision in South Africa from December to January and many young men will be heading off to participate in their respective cultures rite of passage.
Traditional circumcision have become a controversial talking point in South Africa for many years, with thousands of young men having died at initiation schools, as well as those who have sustained injuries as a result of botched circumcisions.
Since 1 December 2015, it has been reported that 18 young men have died (17 of these initiates are from the Eastern Cape and 1 from North West), while 80 boys have been rescued from illegal initiations schools across Gauteng.
Dr Khumbalani Moyo, Medical Male Circumcision General Manager at Right to Care has advocated for the use of clinics to do free medical circumcisions.
“It is important that circumcisions are done in a safe and hygienic setting. At the same time, health practitioners also offer confidential counselling and testing for HIV. Even those that are HIV infected are still offered the procedure,” he says.
The procedure can be done free at clinics, community health centres and district hospitals across the country.
Right to Care also has a network of private general practitioners who perform circumcisions for free as well as a mobile medical male circumcision (MMC) clinic which can be deployed in Gauteng and in Mpumalanga.
Moyo says some of the benefits of having circumcision are that it reduces the chance of contracting HIV/AIDS by 60% and it also reduces the risks of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
For women, if her partner is circumcised, it reduces her risk of getting cervical cancer.
Moyo also encourages for circumcision to take place in summer, saying winter circumcisions are more popular based on misconceptions.
“Some think the wound will heal quicker during the winter months. This isn’t true. It takes the same time no matter what time of year the procedure is done,” he says, “We encourage patients to take good care of themselves after the procedure. This simply means cleaning the wound twice a day and avoiding sex or masturbation for six weeks.”
After the circumcision, patients are advised to still use condoms when having sex, sticking to one sexual partner and to know their HIV status.
According to Right to Care, more than 1.8 million circumcisions have been done in South Africa as part of the Department of Health’s HIV prevention strategy. Right to Care has done almost 600 000 of these in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
Right to Care encourages voluntary medical male circumcisions for men and boys in the target age-group between 15 and 49. All minors aged less than 18 need parental consent.
To find out where your nearest circumcision is, please call this toll free number 0800 448 024 or send a please call me to 082 808 6152 or a blank SMS to 41449.