Cir­cum­ci­sion cam­paign tar­gets women

Sunday Express - - NEWS - Lim­pho Sello

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.

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