Joburg men urged to consider circumcision for HIV prevention

​​Health NGO Right to Care, which administers South Africa’s largest voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) programme as part of the nation’s HIV prevention strategy, is urging men to undergo circumcision this winter to protect themselves and their partners from HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  

Circumcision can reduce the sexual transmission of HIV by up to 60%. Despite progress, HIV remains a significant challenge in South Africa.

Dr Khumbulani Moyo, Head of the VMMC programme at Right to Care, says winter is South Africa’s peak circumcision season. “Our experienced teams at health facilities across Gauteng, Free State, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, and KwaZulu-Natal are ready to offer men free, safe circumcisions. June, being Men’s Health Month, is an opportune time to undergo the procedure,” explains Dr Moyo.

 He highlights that medical circumcision is often a man’s first encounter with the public health system. Right to Care’s teams provide confidential services in a safe environment. The procedure is simple, and the healing process is rapid, with normal activities resuming within one to three days and complete healing within six weeks.

 “South Africans cannot afford to become complacent about HIV,” Dr Moyo stresses.

He refers to the Human Sciences Research Council’s Sixth SA National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, and Behaviour Survey, which shows that HIV disproportionately affects young people and women.

The survey also revealed that HIV prevalence is highest in KwaZulu-Natal, followed by Mpumalanga, Free State, Eastern Cape, North West, Gauteng, Limpopo, Northern Cape, and Western Cape. Right to Care, funded by the Centre for Disease Control through PEPFAR South Africa, provides circumcisions in 350 health facilities across 27 districts in eight provinces on behalf of the Department of Health. 

“Circumcision is an essential aspect of a man’s overall physical health,” Dr Moyo notes. 

“Before the procedure, we support men with comprehensive health screenings and referrals to other professionals if necessary. The health screening includes testing for HIV, and screening for STIs, TB, blood pressure, and diabetes. We also offer both individual and group counselling. As part of our commitment to comprehensive HIV prevention, we refer men at high risk of HIV infection to be initiated onto PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).

” The HSRC survey found that nearly 50% of South African men aged 15–24 are medically circumcised. Dr Moyo appeals to older men to also consider circumcision. “You can circumcise at any age and reduce your risk of HIV infection. Circumcision also helps prevent the transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer in women.”Medical circumcision, performed under local anaesthetic, takes only 30 minutes. Aside from the anaesthetic injection before the procedure, there is very little pain. “Your healthcare worker will provide all necessary information, including how to care for your wound,” says Dr Moyo. 

Many men worry about the impact of circumcision on their sex life. However, when performed in a medical facility under sterile conditions, circumcision has no adverse effects on sexual function or pleasure. “You should abstain from sex or masturbation during the six-week healing process,” Dr Moyo advises. 

For more information about free medical circumcision or to make an appointment, call or send a ‘please call me’ to the Right to Care circumcision call centre on 082 808 6152. Right to Care can also be found on Facebook. Right to Care has performed over 1.5 million safe circumcisions since 2012.

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