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Currently over 46 million people are
infected with the HIV virus worldwide, the majority in
sub-Saharan Africa , and 3 million deaths are expected
this year alone. Tens of millions have already died.
In the past
15 years many published studies have shown that circumcision
helps protect against HIV infection, by eliminating the
specialized receptor cells in the foreskin that bind
to the virus. A recent statement from the U.S Agency
for International Development (USAID) referred to "an
incredible preponderance of evidence " of the protective
effect of circumcision . But would circumcision be acceptable
to Africans as an intervention against HIV?
Two recent surveys, one in Botswana and the other in
South Africa , examined the question.Both countries have
a high prevalence of HIV. The South African study took
place in the Westonaria area where most of the men were
uncircumcised.Of 374 uncircumcised men 70% stated that
they would want to be circumcised if the procedure were
proved to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
It was concluded that circumcision was perceived positively
in this area where the level of circumcision is low.
In the Botswana survey 605 men and women (52% men ) were
interviewed and 68% stated that they would definitely
or probably circumcise a male child, if circumcision
were offered free of charge in a hospital setting. Of
238 uncircumcised men, 145 (61%) said they would agree
to circumcision under the same circumstances.The investigators
felt that the option for safe circumcision should be
made available to parents in Botswana , since the procedure
seems to be highly acceptable.
Why aren't medical and diplomatic agencies encouraging
the use of circumcision as an intervention against the
devastating HIV epidemic in view of the evidence of benefit
and the acceptability by the people at risk