Posted on: April 11, 2010 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

The South African province of KwaZulu-Natal offers free clinical circumcision to reduce the HIV infection rate, starting on 11 April 2010, estimated to extend to two million men.

KZN province contains a large rural population, of mainly Zulu people. The initiative follows research that indicate greater HIV infection rates in uncircumcised males, due to temporary protection that foreskins affords virus populations in vaginal fluids, immediately after intercourse with infected women.

Circumcision used to be general practice at tribal youth initiation ceremonies, but some tribes do not practice it, while others have opted out of traditional initiation due to the risk of injury and infection from unhygienic conditions and contracting HIV from exposure of open wounds to the blood of fellow tribesmen who may be HIV infected.

Circumcised males are less at risk of contracting HIV infection, thereby breaking the chain of infections due to multiple sexual partners. BuaNews quotes KwaZulu-Natal provincial premier Zweli Mkhize who said on 8 April that the provincial initiative was supported by HIV prevention and treatment activists and medical professionals.
The project was launched by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. The province announced the programme during tabling of the Zulu royal budget. The premier reminded news media that the king promoted male circumcision as an additional effort to improve hygiene, and to reduce the spread of infection, and should not be viewed as a cure for AIDS.
Premier Mkhize acknowledged that the task was massive.

In 2006, two global scientific trials on the effects of male circumcision on HIV transmission, were stopped, after interim results showed an overwhelming protective effect.

The trials validated results from an earlier South African trial at Orange Farm in southern Gauteng province, home to a large urbanized population.

From observational studies and randomised trials, health leaders have concluded that male circumcision by trained and equipped health professionals could significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection among adult men, and thus among entire populations.

== PHOTO CAPTION; One of the Lydenburg Heads, pottery mask models found at an archaeological site in Mpumalanga province at Lydenburg. A similar mask was found in KwaZulu-Natal. The models may derive from circumcision and initiation rituals of some of the east Africa migrants who settled southern Africa in the early middle ages.

Variant designs may be based on the shape of foreskins, or on masks worn by anonymous circumcision officiants, which are destroyed after the ritual period. The Heads were all found in a broken state.

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