Erongo schoolboys get ‘smart cut’

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Donna Collins
Swakopmund

The last days of school holidays had significant meaning for many coastal schoolboys, who braved the ‘smart cut’ through the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Clinic (VMMC), aimed at attracting younger males to the facility for the first time.

Around 540 schoolboys from Walvis Bay and Swakopmund had the procedure performed at the Swakopmund State Hospital on Tuesday, shortly before schools re-open.

The clinic set aside three days a week for learners as young as 12-years old, and according to VMMC Project Director Nikki Soboil, the initiative was very successful. She said they would repeat the exercise for young men over future school holidays.

Furthermore, to coincide with this period, celebrated musician and VMMC Ambassador ‘The Dogg’ performed in Mondesa and Kuisebmond as part of his nationwide promotion of male circumcision.

The clinic, which is to open seven days a week to provide services to older males, answered the demand from parents, in particular mothers, requesting circumcision for their children children, which led to the new initiative.

Soboil said she was very satisfied with the turnout and noted the support among mothers sent out a positive message.

“We would like to see more fathers and sons coming together to take advantage of this free circumcision service, which ultimately helps reduce the risk of HIV transmission in Namibia.

“It is encouraging to learn that most of the young boys made their own decision to take advantage of the voluntary circumcision service we offer, and they are setting an example to both young and old men,” she added.

The main regional VMMC clinic is based in Swakopmund, Erongo Region, which draws men from all corners of Namibia for jobs in the mining and fishing sectors.

She explained that the VMMC clinic in Swakopmund services the whole of Erongo, but there were also several outreach sites, as well as another fixed site in Kuisebmond.

They are also in the process of launching a mobile theatre where they will work with a team of eight doctors.

Male circumcision was given the thumbs up by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, during the official opening of the clinic in June last year, where he said circumcision had proved effective in the prevention of HIV/Aids.

He said it was scientifically proven the ‘smart cut’ procedure reduced a man’s chances of contracting the infection by 60 percent.

They therefore, needed to carry the message to people in every region, to motivate men to have themselves circumcised in an effort to reduce the spread of the HIV virus.
Soboil said on average they were circumcising around 30 men a day, but would like to see the figures increase.

The procedure takes an hour, with minimum down time to recover. She said it was important for men to stick to all the guidelines given by health workers to ensure proper healing after the procedure.

Whilst circumcision is not a miracle cure for aids, it greatly reduces the risk of HIV, but it is important to still use condoms and practise safe sex at all times.
The Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision is a US initiative funded through the Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR).

4 COMMENTS

  1. Claiming that circumcision prevents a health problem is a compulsion of circumcised men to have done to others what was done to them. Historically, this compulsion has led to over 200 potential health claims for circumcision. All have been refuted. Thirteen national and international organizations recommend against circumcision. Search “circumcision information summary” to learn why.

    The foreskin has various functions that contribute to sexual experience for both partners. It contains thousands of nerves and expands sensitivity. Cutting it off is like cutting off a thumb believing the hand will work better. Search “functions of the foreskin.”

    Many professionals have criticized the studies claiming that circumcision reduces HIV transmission. The investigators did not seek to determine the source of the HIV infections during their studies. They assumed all infections were heterosexually transmitted. Even if the claim were true, based on the studies, about 60 men had to be circumcised to prevent one HIV infection.

    Authorities that cite the studies have other agendas including political and financial. Research shows that circumcision causes physical, sexual, and psychological harm, reducing the sexual pleasure of both partners. This harm is ignored by circumcision advocates. Other methods to prevent HIV transmission (e.g., condoms and sterilizing medical instruments) are much more effective, much cheaper, and much less invasive. Even HIV/circumcision studies advise using condoms. With condoms circumcision adds no benefit to HIV prevention. Circumcision will not be “voluntary” when it is forced on children.

  2. Smart people stay intact. Male circumcision is a dangerous distraction in the fight against AIDS.

    From a USAID report:
    “There appears no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence—in 8 of 18 countries with data, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries it is higher.”
    http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/CR22/CR22.pdf
    (this will include men who were circumcised tribally rather than medically, but they and their partners may also believe themselves to be protected, and the whole rationale for the RCTs into female-to-male transmission was a purported correlation between high rates of male circumcision and low rates of HIV)

    It seems highly unrealistic to expect that there will be no risk compensation. The South African National Communication Survey on HIV/AIDS, 2009 found that 15% of adults across age groups “believe that circumcised men do not need to use condoms”. This figure seems to have been unchanged in 2012.
    http://www.info.gov.za/issues/hiv/survey_2009.htm
    http://www.hst.org.za/sites/default/files/ZANationalHIVCommunicationSurvey2012.pdf
    http://jhhesa.org/sites/default/files/hiv_survey.pdf

    A study in Zambia found that “30% of women at R1, and significantly more (41%) at R2, incorrectly believed MC is fully protective for men against HIV.”
    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0149517

    It is unclear if circumcised men are more likely to infect women. The only ever randomized controlled trial into male-to-female transmission showed a 54% higher rate in the group where the men had been circumcised:
    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)60998-3/abstract

    ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, and especially Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery seems likely to cost African lives rather than save them.

  3. Smart men stay intact. ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, and especially Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery seems likely to cost African lives rather than save them.

  4. I cannot agree with you more Mark. I am wondering where they get their figure of 60% from. More efforts should be made to educate people about how it is spread.

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