KwaZulu-Natal achieves one million+ male circumcisions as part of the National HIV Prevention Programme

Dr S Dhlomo, MEC for Health

KwaZulu-Natal exceeding one million medical male circumcisions within eight years, as part of the government’s drive to drastically reduce new HIV infections.

Since 2010, the National Department of Health, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has been scaling up voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) with the goal of reaching 90% circumcisions among HIV-negative men aged 15 – 49 years in South Africa.

Earlier this year, MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, made a commitment to boost VMMC uptake in the province and to reach one million male circumcisions by April. Dr Dhlomo’s commitment was realised, thanks to fruitful engagement with various sectors, including traditional leaders, civil society and businesses, who came on board to support the cause and to address barriers that prevent men from accessing VMMC services.

Dr Dhlomo says hitting the one million mark is a significant milestone. “We are already beginning to see a decline in the number of new HIV infections, which has dropped from an estimated 500 000 new HIV infections in 2009 just before the VMMC programme started, to 270 000 in 2016 after its inception. VMMC has played a big part of the combination prevention approach that has led to the successes achieved thus far.”

Melusi Yeni, a well-known actor from KwaZulu-Natal and face of the province’s Millionth Man Campaign, was circumcised yesterday (25 May) at the Sivananda Clinic situated in the eThekwini district in support of VMMC in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Yeni encourages all men to take responsibility for their health and to get circumcised. “I always knew getting circumcised was the right thing to do, but kept postponing it for another day. I’m excited to have joined the brotherhood of circumcised men who have taken responsibility for their health and the wellbeing of their partners.”

“Being a champion for VMMC and the Millionth Man Campaign makes me really proud, and I hope it will encourage other men to also get circumcised.”

The circumcision procedure only takes about 20 minutes under local anaesthetic. Prior to the procedure, men are counselled by their doctor, as is standard practice, allowing them the opportunity to ask any questions they may have.

Dundee Hospital promotes good health care |

Dr Lisa Mulenga from the USAID Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Project refers to Medical Male Circumcision as a one-time health intervention that provides men with life-long partial protection against HIV. Since male circumcision only guarantees partial protection, men are advised to use condoms post-circumcision to provide complete protection.

“In addition to reducing the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by up to 60%, VMMC also decreases the risk of urinary tract infections, the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and protects against penile and prostate cancer. It also offers men improved hygiene and reduces the risk of cervical cancer (caused by the Human Papilloma Virus – HPV) in women,” remarks Mulenga.

Glenridge Clinic Awareness Day

Dr Dhlomo notes that while KwaZulu-Natal has hit the millionth circumcision mark and that it needs to be celebrated, the war on AIDS isn’t over. “In addition to consistent condom use and reducing the number of sexual partners, MMC plays a vital role in curbing new HIV infections. To meet the strategic objectives set out in the Annual Performance Plan and to maximise the number of averted HIV infections, approximately 100 000 men still need to be circumcised in KwaZulu-Natal between now and 2020. Join the VMMC movement to save lives,” he encourages.

To protect yourself and your family, book a free circumcision: SMS your name to 30869 or send a free “Please call me” to 0606 33 22 11 and a trained MMC counsellor will give you a call.

The Millionth Man Campaign is supported by Prince Nhlanganiso Zulu, who is an active ambassador for MMC, along with the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department, Office of the Premier, traditional leaders and healers, and a variety of NGOs and other partners.

  AUTHOR
Northern Natal Courier

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