Circumcision campaign targets women
INTERNATIONAL, non-profit health organisation, JHPIEGO, has partnered with other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in a campaign to urge women to encourage their husbands or partners to get circumcised.
This was revealed at a strategic planning session organised by JHPIEGO and attended by NGOs in the HIV/AIDS sector, which include the Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association (LPPA) and Lesotho Network of AIDS Services Organisations (LENASO).
According to Jhpiego’s Communication Officer, Polo Motšoari, the NGOs came up with strategies to conscietise women on the need to encourage their partners to undergo the Voluntary Medical Male Circumci- sion (VMMC) programme.
VMMC is a surgical procedure whereby the foreskin is removed by a trained medical professional. Studies have shown that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission from an infected female partner by 60 percent.
According to recent estimates, 23 percent or just under one in four people, are living with HIV. Lesotho is second only to Swaziland, with 26 percent of the country’s adults in the 15-49 age group HIV positive. According to Help Lesotho, over half of the 260 000 adults living with HIV in Lesotho are women.
“The campaign is meant to make women aware of the important role they play in ensuring their partners get circumcised,” Ms Motšoari said.
“Women can also encourage their partners to accompany them when they seek medical services.
“If we work closely with women, they will help us in achieving our goal of getting as many men as possible circumcised.”
She added that apart from reducing the risk of HIV transmission, VMMC has other medical benefits which include the improvement of personal hygiene and lowering the risk of being infected by other sexually-transmitted infections such as genital herpes, syphilis and Chlamydia.
VMMC, Ms Motšoari said, also helps prevent penile cancer, balanitis (inflammation of the end of the penis), paraphimosis (when the foreskin cannot be replaced in its normal position after it is retracted behind the glans) and lowers the risk of uri- nary tract infections and cervical cancer in women. She added: “Although men benefit directly from VMMC, as it reduces the risk of HIV infection, it also offers indirect protection from cervical cancer to women with circumcised partners compared to those who are not.
“Women also need to engage their families on abstaining from sex, being faithful to one partner and condomising to help reduce the high prevalence of HIV infections in the country.”
Ms Motšoari said discernable progress had been made between 2012 and 2015 as 80 000 men were circumcised during that period. This year, the VMMC target is circumcising 50 000 men and to reach the 80 percent threshold in which 350 000 men are circumcised by 2016.