HIV remains a real threat in SA – men urged to circumcise this winter

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HIV remains a real threat in SA – men urged to circumcise this winter

HIV remains a real threat in SA – men urged to circumcise this winter 150 150 Mbuso Mafuyeka

Thursday, 20 June 2024: Health NGO Right to Care, which is implementing South Africa’s largest voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) programme as part of SA’s HIV prevention strategy, encourages men to circumcise this winter to protect themselves and their partners from HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Circumcision helps reduce the sexual transmission of HIV by as much as 60%. HIV remains a challenge in SA despite gains made in addressing the epidemic. 

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

Moyo says that a medical circumcision is often a man’s first encounter with the public health system and Right to Care’s teams are experienced in offering confidential services in a safe environment. The procedure is simple and the healing process is fast. Normal activities can be resumed within one to three days after the procedure, and it takes only six weeks for the wound to heal fully.

“South Africans cannot become complacent about HIV,” adds Moyo. He cites 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 is funded by the Centers for Disease Control through PEPFAR South Africa. On behalf of the Department of Health, it provides circumcisions in 350 health facilities across 27 districts in eight provinces. 

Moyo says, “Circumcision is an important part of a man’s overall physical health. Before circumcision, we support men with comprehensive health screenings and refer them to other professionals if necessary. The health screening includes testing for HIV and screening for STIs, TB, blood pressure and diabetes. We also facilitate both individual and group counselling. As part of our commitment to comprehensive HIV prevention, we refer men who are at a 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. Says Moyo, “We are also appealing to older men to circumcise. You can circumcise at any age and reduce your risk of becoming infected with HIV. Circumcision also assists in preventing the transmission of the human papillomavirus virus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer in women.” 

Medical circumcision is done under local anaesthetic and takes only 30 minutes. Besides the anaesthetic injection before the procedure, there is very little pain. “Your healthcare worker will tell you everything you need to know, including how to care for your wound,” says Moyo. 

Many men worry about the effect a circumcision may have on their sex life, but when performed in a medical facility and under sterile conditions, circumcision has no adverse effects on sexual function or pleasure. “It is only during the six-week healing process that you should not have sex or masturbate,” he adds. 

To find out more 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. You can also find Right to Care on Facebook.

Right to Care has performed over 1.5 million safe circumcisions since 2012. 

About Right to Care

Right to Care is a non-profit organisation that supports and delivers prevention, care, and treatment services for HIV and TB. Through technical assistance, Right to Care supports South Africa’s National Department of Health (NDOH) and its provinces and provides direct services in facilities. It is funded by United States Government donors and collaborates with the private sector to implement community health programmes. 

Right to Care’s circumcision districts include: 

  • Gauteng – Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Sedibeng. 
  • Free State – Lejweleputswa and Thabo Mofutsanyane. 
  • Eastern Cape – Alfred Nzo, Amathole, Buffalo City, Chris Hani and Oliver Tambo. 
  • KwaZulu-Natal – eThekwini, Harry Gwala, King Cetshwayo, Ugu, Umgungundlovu, Uthukela and Zululand. 
  • Mpumalanga – Ehlanzeni, Nkangala and Gert Sibande. 
  • Limpopo – Capricorn and Mopani.
  • North West – Bojanala Platinum, Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Ngaka Modiri Molema. 
  • Western Cape – Cape Town. 

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