Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Male circumcision for AIDS prevention should be prioritized in PNG

JOE WASIA | Supported by the Bob Cleland Writing Fellowship
Re-posted from Keith Jacksons & Friends: PNG Attitude (19/10/2012)

LIKE MANY DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, Papua New Guinea is greatly susceptible to HIV/AIDS.

Research and studies have done by many countries but there is no cure identified for the deadly disease. Thousands of people are dying every year.

Daily newspapers, radio, television and social media report the deaths of so many people without specifying the disease. But no reports of deaths from AIDS appear in any media in PNG. But AIDS is a major cause of many deaths.

Preventive measures like using of condoms, avoiding exposure to blood, being faithful to one partner, and male circumcision are tools used in many countries.

These preventive measures are recommended by the World Health Organisations and many other global institutions.

In Uganda from 1991-2001, there was a great decrease (from 15% to 6%) in the prevalence of HIV as a result of effective implementation of these preventive measures.

The decrease was multiplied by a multi-sectoral approach with themes such as ‘Love Carefully’, ‘Zero Grazing’, and ‘Be faithful to your Partner’. They managed to make Uganda a paragon of success.

Almost all countries prioritise other measures in preventing, combating and treating HIV/AIDS but very few prioritise male circumcision.

Circumcision is a method of removing the foreskin of a male penis. The soft tissue dries out and becomes normal skin which creates a barrier to prevent the HIV virus and other sexually transmitted illnesses like gonorrhoea and syphilis.

A study conducted by French researcher Bertran Auvert in 2001 revealed, at an international AIDS Society Conference in Brazil, that circumcision in males is far better than AIDS vaccine.

The results of the study showed that circumcised men were 63% less likely than uncircumcised men to be infected through sex with HIV-positive women.

That's a far better rate of protection than the 30% reduction risk set as a target for AIDS vaccine. Similar studies have shown that circumcision in males is a better way of prevention from HIV and other sexually transmitted illnesses.

It therefore seems important for the PNG government and public and private health organisations to introduce male circumcision in hospitals and health centres in our country. I think this could help.

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