Tuesday May 12 2015

Men shun circumcision as youth dash for the knife

By Sandra Janet Birungi

Kampala- More adolescents of between 10 and 19 years are positively responding to safe male circumcision compared to the men above 35 years, Ministry of Health officials have said.

One of the reasons being advanced for the adult men’s low response is that their wives claim if they get circumcised, they would become promiscuous.
“Circumcision has been proven to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV in men by 60 per cent. So, the women think that if their men get circumcised, they will have unprotected sex with as many women as possible,” Dr Barbara Nanteza, the national safe male circumcision coordinator at the Ministry of Health, said.

She added that adult men fear being circumcised as opposed to the adolescents who are convinced by adolescent girls that getting cut is ‘stylish’.

“These young girls tell the boys that they will not have sex with them if they are not cut, prompting them to go for the procedure. They also see it as a sign of cleanliness,” she added.

Dr Nanteza made the comments during a science café of health journalists in Kampala last week.
She revealed that about 2.1 million men have been circumcised so far in a period of five years since the ministry took the initiative to circumcise men around the country.

The ministry is targeting to have at least four million men circumcised.

Ms Sylvia Nakasi, the policy and advocacy officer at Uganda Network of Aids Service Organisations, however, said there is a concern about the perception of circumcision among both adults and adolescents.

“It all goes back to the way we tell the people about circumcision. Before receiving the procedure, all men are counselled and taken through tests, including HIV so that they can know that getting cut is not 100 per cent safe. Those who do not go through that counselling are the ones who think they are safe after the procedure and this is wrong,” Ms Nakasi explained.

She added that there should also be balanced information on the benefits of circumcision so that people don’t look only for HIV prevention but also as a way of protecting women from getting the virus that causes cervical cancer carried by men in their foreskin.

The exercise is funded by donors under the United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief fund.