- Ugandan government has launched mass circumcision campaign in its bid to reduce HIV/AIDS infections in the east African country.
Government officials in Kampala have decided to take advantage of a month-long traditional circumcision season practiced by some tribes in the country to attract more young males to be circumcised.
Uganda is not the only African state which has embarked on circumcision to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS. The country was preceded by Rwanda which launched a mass campaign to circumcise soldiers in July with the aim to target and encourage a large number of the population.
Uganda has declared its will to circumcise men as studies indicate that circumcision could reduce infection by 70 percent when used in conjunction with condoms and other safe-sex practices.
"Socially, it is uniting, and now it has also been proven medically, that is gratifying and it is part and parcel of now the strategy for fighting AIDS," said Kibale Wambi, chairman of Sironko district in eastern Uganda.
Government plans to circumcise more than 3,000 youth between ages of 12 and 18, but HIV activists said such a campaign need concerted efforts and funding for it to succeed.
Circumcision critiques said though government has a good initiative to fight HIV, but have fears that process is dangerous as some traditional circumcisers are reported to be using the same blade on young men in remote parts of the country.
They also fear that some newly circumcised men may believe they are immune to HIV following the procedure, translating into even more risky sexual behaviours.
Uganda, a model for Africa in the fight against HIV & AIDS, has a strong government leadership, broad-based partnerships and effective public education campaigns that contributed to a decline in the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the 1990s.
The government has introduced a strict one knife per operation ruling to ensure no infections are passed on to others. "If a knife is to be re-used on another person, it first has to be sterilised," said an official.
"We have also discouraged the traditional practice of forcing circumcised males into sexual intercourse to prove their manhood after the wound heals, to avoid the spread of sexually transmitted diseases," an official emphasised.
Uganda has been widely praised for an education campaign about condoms that is credited with cutting HIV prevalence rates from 30 percent two decades ago to about 6 percent today.
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