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MINISTRY OF HEALTH: CIRCUMCISION NOT SOLUTION TO HIV/AID PREVENTION

The Ministry of Health has dismissed claims that the late circumcision programme is aimed at immunity boosting against contracting the deadly HIV/AIDS virus.

Malawians are cautioned against false sense of security that circumcision is an immunity booster against HIV/AIDS.

The Ministry of Health has said about 150,000 men have been circumcised since Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) campaigned was rolled off in 2011 and it targets to circumcise 1.8 million men by 2018.

According to the ministry, VMMC reduces the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by approximately 60 percent

Health Ministry spokesperson Henry Chimbali speaking to our FaceofMalawi reporters during refresher training for Journalists on VMMC in Blantyre Tuesday said it saves costs by averting new HIV infections and reducing the number of people needing HIV treatment and care.

VMMC provides men life-long partial protection against HIV as well as other sexually transmitted infections.

It should always be considered as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package of services and be used in conjunction with other methods of prevention, such as female and male condoms, exclaimed Chimbali.

He also observed that most married men are put off by the six weeks sex abstinence period, which one is advised to observe for the wound to get healed.

Programme Officer for National Association for People Living with HIV and AIDS (Napham), Paul Manyamba, who also organised the training on his part said women are also integral part of the VMMC and that married couples can always go for pre VMMC counselling to ably understand what the six weeks abstinence period is all about is.

The media training, organised with funding from AVAC, a United States based  organisation,  was a follow- up training on previous one conducted by Bridge II project in collaboration with Ministry of Health.

Malawi first introduced VMMC as part of the country’s HIV prevention package in Phalombe in October 2011. Since then VMMC has been scaled -up to 6 additional districts namely-Chikhwawa, Zomba, Phalombe, Zomba, Lilongwe, Nkhota-kota, and Thyolo.

While, Malawi has made strides in scaling-up VMMC to other districts, little attention has been focused on media.

The media is a potential stakeholder dispelling myths around male circumcision, bringing objectivity and explaining the science and benefits of this important HIV prevention intervention.

Accurate and consistent reporting could help mobilise individuals to take up VMMC and realize a public health benefit for both men and women in their communities; hence the media refresher training, explained Manyamba.

Fourth while women particularly young, attractive women with nice nail polish on are not about to have sex with a man who’s not circumcised and risk contracting HIV.  But health experts contend that even though circumcised men can still have HIV and they most certainly can still pass it on.

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