Zimbabwe: Concern over high HIV rates among circumcised males Read the original article on : Zimbabwe: Concern over high HIV rates among circumcised males

By Janet Shoko

Health officials in Zimbabwe are worried that the massive drive to have 1, 2 million men circumcised by 2015 might backfire following indications that HIV prevalence is high among men that have undergone the procedure.

According to research, circumcision reduces the transmission of the HIV virus by 60 percent among heterosexual men.

But the latest Zimbabwe Health Demographic Survey (ZHDS 2010/2011), indicates that the HIV prevalence rate among circumcised men is 14 percent and 12 percent among the uncircumcised.

The findings are for circumcised males between the ages of 15 and 49.

This is blamed on the misconception that circumcision completely shields people from HIV infection.

Circumcision is free at Zimbabwe government health centers to promote the HIV prevention method.

National Aids Council (NAC) public health officer Blessing Mutede said authorities were concerned about the high rate of infection among the circumcised.

Health officials say most men, after circumcision, harbour the false impression that they have been equipped with an invisible condom.

"It is a worrying development that at a time when we are promoting male circumcision as a preventive measure to combat HIV, we are recording a high prevalence rate amongst the group that has been circumcised largely due to uninformed risky compensatory behaviours," Mutede said.

In a survey, a sample of 5 650 men aged between 15 and 49 were tested for the deadly HIV.

 Official figures indicate that the southern Africa country has carried out about 70 000 circumcisions since the programme began in 2009.

To date more than 70 lawmakers have volunteered to go under the knife to show their commitment to fighting the killer disease.

Infection in Zimbabwe runs at about 13 % of the population but rises above 20 % in the teens to early 30s age group.

On Wednesday, it was reported that condom users in Zimbabwe were in danger after it emerged that equipment used to test the quality of condoms was out-dated and no longer had capacity to produce accurate results.

Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe director, Gugu Mahlangu said the "equipment was 15 years old"


"We are supposed to test 6-8 sample batches of condoms with the air inflators but at the end we only test three batches because of the backward technology"  she said.

Source: The African Report
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