To do ‘The Cut’ or not?

Whenever you read an article or blog, the first few lines determines whether you will read, skim or discard it. I wish I could have come up with a ‘Kick ass’ one-liner but I am afraid I had to borrow it. So here it is: “If I was supposed to be circumcised, I would have been born like that.” (Bheka Msomi – Beat it, 2010).

2. Circumcision reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission by 60 percent.
Fact: This has been proven by clinical trials in Kenya, Uganda and Orange Farm township in South Africa.
My comment: I keep finding conspiracy or biased theories disproving these trials. Ignore them, it is conclusive.

3. There is now conclusive evidence that not only is HIV transmission reduced but also STI’s.
Fact: Cells found in the foreskin are easy receptors to HIV. When the foreskin is removed, so are there cells. The foreskin hides ulcers. STI’s – the Human Papilloma Virus and Herpes Simplex – are also reduced with circumcision by 35 and 25 percent reduction each case.
My comment: Certainly some great results.

4. Circumcision is practiced by many religious groups for centuries. In Jewish culture, the procedure is done on the 8th day of a boy’s life and is performed by ancient traditions according to Judiac custom.
Fact: Many doctors around the world (including Dr. Mense, Chair of Pediatrics in Beijing Hospital) recommend circumcision in newborns. However, any man can be circumcised at any age. In Orange Farm at the Bophelo Pele Project, boys have to be 16 to be circumcised. Parental consent is required for boys between 15 – 17 years old.
My comment: Must be noted that there is controversy around under age circumcision e.g. the Dutch Medical Association has officially adopted the view that circumcision of underage boys is medically unnecessary and violates their human rights (NZ Herald, June 2010).

5. In South Africa, we have ethnic groups who practice circumcision and other groups who do not. Our largest ethnic group, the Zulus have generally not practiced circumcision since the early 19th century, where it was abandoned due to warfare (New York Times, 2009).
Fact: Lots of countries are advocating the use of medical circumcision to reduce HIV & STI transmission. There is a big drive in South Africa – King Goodwill Zwelithini is calling for all young Zulu men to be circumcised. (Feb 2010)
My comment: Role models like King Zwelithini pushing for circumcision is occurring in other countries like Botswana (President Festus Mogae, 1998 – 2008) and Kenya amongst the Luo (Prime Minister Raila Odinga).

6. Medical circumcision is performed by doctors under local or general anaesthesia in clinics or hospitals. Where the foreskin is removed there are stitches. In procedures done in Orange Farm, the stitches used are  dissolving stitches and the young men do not need to return to the clinic after the procedure.
Fact: There are other non-invasive devices available like the Tara Klamp. These devices can be used at home, or in the bush. They are for single use, disposable and can be used for all ages. The clamp stays on the penis for 6 days and then is removed.
My comment: Although very exciting to read about, currently these devices are still being trialled. Bophelo Project had reservations around its use.

7. After circumcision, no sex is permitted for 6 weeks to allow healing. The continual use of condoms is encouraged.
Counselling is given beforehand where every young man (without his parents) has an opportunity to discuss every aspect of circumcision.
Fact: Research has shown that initial fear around men abiding and understanding these rules are unfounded.
My comment: In training sessions as well as young men I have interviewed, they all understood the consequences as a result of the counselling they had prior to the operation.

Boys and men, uncircumcised and circumcised – here are the current facts around circumcision. Something to think about and share…