Sunday, June 24, 2012

BBC: Clinic Erected to Circumcise
Zimbabwe Pols, 181 Take HIV Tests

(Member of Parliament Blessing Chebundo. Credit: New Zimbabwe.)
I'm not convinced circumcising men is all that an effective HIV prevention strategy for a number of reasons, among them sperm from an HIV positive man's circumcised cock can still easily transmit the virus vaginally and anally, while newly circumcised HIV positive men may engage in more unsafe sex in the mistaken thinking that lack of foreskin stops HIV.

The British Broadcasting Corporation two-days ago reported on a nascent campaign led by Zimbabwean politicians to make male circumcision a bigger component in stopping HIV:

At least 10 Zimbabwean MP have been circumcised as part of a campaign to reduce HIV and Aids cases. A small makeshift clinic for carrying out the procedures was erected in Parliament House in the capital Harare. Blessing Chebundo, [pictured], chairman of Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against Aids, said his main objective was to inspire other citizens to follow suit. Research by the UN has suggested male circumcision can reduce the spread of HIV and Aids. A report by UNAids and the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the risk of HIV infection among men could be reduced by 60.

Also on the same day of the publicized circumcisions, almost two-hundred lawmakers stepped forward to get tested for HIV. This is one idea from Zimbabwe I'd like to see emulated by members of the U.S. Congress of all races, as one method of promoting HIV testing. Not so sure I want to see circumcisions carried out there though.

These details come from a story at the New Zimbabwe site:

Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe and the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo have revealed they are HIV negative as part of a new drive by MPs to encourage people to undergo voluntary HIV testing in a bid to help curb stigmatisation and discrimination. Some 181 Members of Parliament took part in the voluntary public HIV testing and counseling exercise Friday.

Speaking of politicians getting HIV tests, back in March 2010 I blogged about Barack and Michelle Obama taking the tests with reporters and photographers present during their 2006 visit to Kenya when he was still in the U.S. Senate. Here's the AP photo I used in the post:

I'd like to suggest that during the International AIDS Conference next month in Washington is an ideal time for our lawmakers in the U.S. Congress to get a test in front of the press and cameras. Would do a lot to lessen the stigma associated with getting an HIV test.

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