Circumcision is as beneficial to HIV positive men as it is to HIV negative men Not circumcising men who are HIV positive is likely to increase stigmatisation against them, says Hilltop Hospital surgeon, Dr. Alick Akufuna.
Dr Akufuna disclosed in a recent interview with the Lusaka Star that despite circumcision being recommended for all men, certain health centres in Zambia decline to circumcise HIV positive people.
He noted that the decision not to circumcise HIV positive men may be due to the fact that their immune systems are weak and they sometimes experience prolonged bleeding or may react to the anaesthetic used during the operation.
Dr Akufuna said the fact that the HIV positive men are treated differently from their HIV negative counterparts is likely to result not only in their stigmatisation but may force them to seek surgery from unsafe or poorly-trained providers.
He disclosed that it is only the HIV positive men who are excluded from the circumcision programme after the screening process reveals their HIV status.
Dr. Akufuna said male circumcision is beneficial to all men whether HIV positive or negative because it reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), cancer of the penis and protects them against urinary tract infections.
Dr. Akufuna has since urged HIV positive men to go to the recommended health centres and not use traditional methods when they want to get circumcised to avoid complications.
Meanwhile, the University of Zambia (UNZA) Clinic last month joined in commemorating the 2012 August male circumcision month.
UNZA clinic nurse in charge of male circumcision, Thomas Mulela, said the turnout of men who were being circumcised at UNZA clinic was good.
Mr. Mulela said there has been a positive response from students, stating that from January 1 to August 26 2012, UNZA clinic has circumcised a total of 211 males, 33 of whom were circumcised in the month of August which the Ministry of Health had dedicated as the Male Circumcision month.
“The purpose of the male circumcision month was to create awareness in men who are not circumcised and during this month men receive free services from all medical institutions that provide it,” Mr Mulela said.
He further added that the 2012 male circumcision month targeted males between the ages of 13 to 49 which UNZA clinic managed to achieve.
“Our main target is the HIV negative men as it has been scientifically proven that circumcised men are less likely to contract HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), such as syphilis and herpes than those who are not circumcised,” he explained.
And Mr. Mulela stated that it does not mean circumcised men should not practice safe sex because they could still get HIV and AIDS and other STIs.
Mr. Mulela said the benefit of male circumcision is that it lowers the risk of cervical cancer in women whose partners are circumcised.
“In all government medical institutions and co-operating partners such as Society for family Health, circumcision was free whilst private medical institutions charge for the service at a minimum of K150, 000,” he said.
Currently the UNZA Clinic offers circumcision on a fortnightly basis and men are counselled before they go through the procedure.
Mr. Mulela has since urged all men who want to be circumcised and those that want more information on the subject to visit UNZA Clinic.
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis and is one of the oldest and most common surgical procedures practiced for different cultural and religious reasons around the world.