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Male circumcision rapidly gaining in popularity

Male circumcision is gaining in popularity globally and in South Africa, and is currently one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the world.

Rachael Rawlinson, the Prevention Programme Manager at HIV management organisation, CareWorks says the increased interest in male circumcision primarily stems from studies conducted in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda which indicate that male circumcision may reduce the risk of HIV acquisition by up to 60%. It has also been found that circumcision can protect a circumcised man’s female partner from certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

She says more adult men are also making the cut for aesthetic reasons.

“There is a growing body of evidence worldwide which suggests that women prefer to have sex with a circumcised male partner and that they find it unhygienic to be intimate with a man who hasn’t been circumcised.

“Many women claim that sex with a circumcised man lasts longer and offers more pleasure. This inevitably puts a lot of pressure on men to undergo the procedure,” says Rawlinson.

Currently more than 2.3 million men in South Africa have been circumcised. During 2014 in the 14 priority African countries, over three million men were circumcised, which is a 22% increase from 2013 and a 750% increase from the annual number of circumcisions performed in 2010.

Rawlinson says there’s no denying that circumcision is popular right now, especially among men between the ages of 15 and 24 who are opting for the 20-minute surgical procedure.

“From a medical and hygiene point of view, men who haven’t been circumcised are more prone to a wide range of infectious diseases, ranging from HIV to thrush, syphilis, the human papilloma virus (HPV) and urinary tract infections. Their female partners are also more at risk of contracting genital herpes, and HPV which is a leading cause of cervical cancer.

“The lining of the foreskin is very thin and as a result offers fertile ground for bacteria and other microorganisms to multiply.

“Prostate cancer rates also tend to be higher in uncircumcised men and rates of cervical cancer are also greater in their female partners. The lack of circumcision increases a man’s risk of contracting HIV by up to eight times and the risk is even higher when STIs are present,” she continues.

The method of circumcision you opt for is something you will need to discuss with your doctor if you are considering Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) notes Rawlinson.

“There are three recommended methods for surgery, each with advantages and disadvantages, some better suited to specific anatomical cases. All have excellent safety records when performed by a trained professional and all require local anaesthesia, and are conducted on an out-patient basis with full recovery in as little as six weeks.”

Dennis ‘Yuki’ Masina, Orlando Pirates and Black Aces’ soccer star, has recently come out in support of VMMC as an HIV prevention option by undergoing the procedure. Named as the Centre for HIV and AIDS Prevention Studies (CHAPS) ambassador, Masina is urging men to get circumcised to protect not only themselves, but their female partners too. Already, Yuki’s former teammates, Reginald Motsa and John Shisa Junior Mdluli, and the manager of the Black Aces youth team, Mandla Soko, have all decided to undergo medical circumcision.

Rawlinson says circumcision remains a very personal decision, but the health advantages are very clear and far outweigh the cons.

To find out more information or where you, your son, friend or partner, can undergo free VMMC: send a free ‘please call me’ to 0606 800 800 and a counsellor will get back to you.