Haufiku targets HIV afflicted Zambezi

The Minister of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), Bernard Haufiku, will join the male circumcision campaign in the Zambezi region where he will be performing operations to try and curb the high and prevailing HIV/AIDS rate.

The Region has the overall highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country at 23.7%. In 2014, over 12 000 people who were infected with HIV in the Zambezi Region were on anti-retroviral therapy compared to the 10 000 in 2013. This has saved lives in the region that were heavily plagued by the epidemic with an HIV occurrence rate of 37%.

“We target the Zambezi because the high rate of HIV and a very low number of men who are circumcised. We will do consultations, doctor’s grand rounds, and discussions as well as operations including voluntary circumcisions. The low uptake in the program (circumcision) is largely due to lack of information and perhaps cultural and traditional norms and belief systems,” Haufiku said.

Haufiku said that the prevailing number of HIV infections in the region could largely be due to lack of information and the cultural beliefs of the people. Haufiku and staff from the MoHSS will be going to Katima Mulilo for outreach from the 3rd to the 5th of September this year.

He continued citing that that circumcision has health benefits. Male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection in men by approximately 60%.

The Villager earlier this year spoke to Dr. Tatenda Mawire who said that most fathers nowadays are not going for circumcision, but that they are taking their young boys for the process. This shows that they do understand the health benefits involved.

“Men need to understand why it is important for them to be circumcised, because many men do not want to undergo operations if they are not sick,” said Dr. Mawire.

Mawire also said that some men are not comfortable with the healing period of six weeks, which means that they have to be sexually inactive.

According to an article done by the World Health Organisation (WHO), male circumcision, provided by well-trained health professionals in properly equipped settings, is safe. This was discovered through three randomized and controlled trials the article said.

“WHO/UNAIDS [Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS] recommendations emphasize that male circumcision should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV and low male circumcision prevalence,” the article stated.