Malawi Favors Circumcision Against AIDS

The government of Malawi is contemplating to incorporate circumcision into other measures to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Southern African country, amid caution from scholars that there may be widespread promiscuity if the program is not properly im

Malawi Favors Circumcision Against AIDS

"We will ensure that people regard circumcision as an intervention that can only be effective if they behave and avoid risk behaviors that may lead to contraction of the virus," Roy Hauya, Director of Programs at the National AIDS Commission (NAC), told IslamOnlin.net.

He cited United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) figures that 3.7 million infections and 2.7 million deaths could be averted over the next 20 years if male circumcision is added to multi-preventative strategies already in place.

Circumcision is a confirmed Sunnah in Islam as an act pertaining to fitrah (pure human nature).

Some local indigenous Malawian cultures also consider circumcision as a ritual to mark entry into manhood.

According to official statistics, HIV prevalence in Malawi is currently at 12.5 percent in economically productive adults aged between 15 and 49.

Official statistics suggest Muslims constitute 12 percent of the country's 12 million people, but Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) put the rate at 36.

Effective

Hauya said the idea to incorporate circumcision comes against a background of several research and trials indicating circumcision can curb the spread of the deadly and incurable virus.

"Circumcision has been proven to be effective to reduce HIV infection in men," Dr. Rajab Nkakosya, lecturer of Microbiology at University of Malawi's College of Health Sciences, told IOL.

He said the foreskin has very thin epithelium making it prone to bruises during intercourse.

"These microscopic bruises allows for the HIV to enter the man's bloodstream. Besides, the foreskin is rich with certain cells which make it naturally possible for the HIV to fasten on them."

Circumcision has emerged as a new tool in the battle against AIDS.

A research conducted in South Africa by the France's National Agency for research on AIDS has found that circumcision reduced infection by 60 percent.

The US National Institute of Health (NIH) found it reduced infection by 48 – 53 percent.

SADC countries are mulling circumcision as an addition to other preventative strategies in place.

In December last year, the SADC forum for National AIDS Authorities convened a meeting in Blantyre, Malawi, where all the 14 member countries expressed a need to considers circumcision as an emerging option in the intervention against HIV/AIDS.

SADC groups Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

There are estimated 39.5 million people are infected with the virus, many unaware of their status.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the hardest-hit region, with 24.7 million people affected, making up more than 60% of people living with HIV worldwide.

AIDS is the major cause of death among the youths, according to the World Bank.

Cautions

However, members of the clergy – especially the Muslim community – stressed the need to be cautious when implementing the program because some people would indulge in promiscuous lifestyle due to complacency.

"We really need to critically look at this matter," said Sheikh Jafaar Kawinga, Blantyre District Chairman of the umbrella Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM).

"As Muslims we would not be happy to see circumcision being abused, because it is part of our faith," he added.

"We attach our respect, fear and submission of God when undergoing this practice and this helps mould good behaviors which are the core element in the fight against HIV/AIDS. But if circumcision is considered an equivalent to condom, then we won't be helping matters," insisted Kawinga.

Government says such concerns would be addressed in a multi-sectoral consultative meeting to be convened in a few months time.

"Government will convene a meeting of stakeholders (including the clergy) to get their input as to how this program may be effective," Hauya said.

"We realize that the faith community is our major partner in the fight against HIV/AIDS, so we wouldn't ignore their concerns."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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