BBC: Men in Uganda seek circumcisions despite HIV rate parity

Men in Uganda have begun seeking circumcisions in numbers after media coverage of two US-sponsored as-yet unpublished studies purportedly showed a reduced risk of contracting HIV in unprotected heterosexual intercourse, according to the BBC.

Despite HIV rates in circumcised and intact populations being about the same, approximately 2500 men sought circumcisions in 2006, according to the same report. About 400 men sought the procedure in 2005.

The two studies, one in Uganda and one in Kenya, were sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Both organizations are based in the United States, a country that circumcises a majority of its infants without apparent effect on the HIV pandemic.

The BBC article noted:

Few cultural groups in Uganda circumcise boys before
they are accepted as men in the society, but researchers say the HIV infection patterns in the country appear to be similar in both circumcising and non-circumcising groups.

Complete text of the article after the jump.

Ugandan men getting circumcised

Growing numbers of Ugandan men are being circumcised, after medical
research showed it could halve the HIV infection rate among
heterosexual men.

A Ugandan paper reports that
last year of 2,500 people circumcised at various clinics, half of them
were male adults, compared to less than 400 in 2005.

A hospital official said they were increasing their provision to cope.

Uganda is often held up as a model of how to fight HIV/Aids, with infection rates falling from 15 to 5%.

Studies conducted by the US National Institutes of Health last year,
found new HIV infections among circumcised heterosexual men in Uganda
and Kenya had dropped by approximately 50%.

The findings were hailed as a breakthrough.

Uganda’s Health Ministry has set up a committee to scrutinise the
research findings before they come up with a circumcision policy.

“The government is cautious about these findings to
avoid a situation whereby people become reckless in belief that after
circumcision they can not contract the virus,” said the BBC’s Ally
Mutasa in Kampala.

The Director of Kibuli Muslim hospital Dr Mahmoud El
Gazar said they were affected by the increasing numbers of clinical
male circumcisions being demanded.

“We carry out circumcision two days a week but we are
contemplating adding another day,” he told Uganda’s Daily Monitor

Our reporter says increased demand for circumcision is also being attributed to the conversion of some men to Islam.

Few cultural groups in Uganda circumcise boys before they are accepted
as men in the society, but researchers say the HIV infection patterns
in the country appear to be similar in both circumcising and
non-circumcising groups.


Staff reports. Ugandan men getting circumcised. BBC News | Africa. January 3, 2007.

About David Wilton

fronterizo, public defender, intactivist, gay
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