Malawi rules out policy on circumcision as anti-AIDS strategy

Blantyre- Malawi (PANA) -- Malawi will not make it an official policy to promote and encourage circumcision among men as a way of preventing the spread of HIV, t h e virus that causes AIDS, two government officials announced here Wednesday.
"We have no scientific evidence that circumcision is a sure way of slowing down the spread of AIDS," said Dr.
Mary Shaba, Principal Secretary for HIV and AIDS i n the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Shaba said she was aware that studies in countries where circumcision was mandat ory showed that HIV/AIDS figures were comparatively low, noting however, that ci r cumcision may not be the only reason why that was so.
Recent studies in Uganda, Kenya and Morocco have found that prevalence rates are reduced by up to 60 percent among men that are circumcised.
Anglican Bishop emeritus Bernard Malango also said in districts where circumcisi on was practiced in Malawi, studies had shown HIV prevalence rates were also hig h .
Circumcision is culturally and religiously mandatory among Muslims and some trib es in Malawi.
However, most Christians and most tribes do not practice what is socially dubbed "the cut".
Since reports started spreading that circumcision may have an impact on the spre ad of HIV, more men have been flocking to hospitals to have the cut.
While some men get circumcised in private hospitals at a fee, many are flocking to public hospitals who are offering the service for free.
About 12 per cent of Malawi population are HIV positive.

15 september 2010 18:27:00

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