MUSANZE - Local leaders and civil society organisations should play a major role in raising public awareness about male circumcision at the grassroots level as part of measures to prevent new HIV infections.
Dr. Jennifer Mbabazi, the head of National Circumcision Programme, Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), made the remarks during a training workshop involving community health workers, local leaders and members of civil society organisations.
The workshop was jointly organised by RBC and UNAIDS.
According to Mbabazi, the Plan on HIV and AIDS 2009-12 aims to increase male circumcision to 50 percent among men aged 10-19 and 30 percent among those aged 20 and above, as part of its strategy to reduce the transmission of HIV.
Evidence indicates that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection by 60 percent, according to World Health Organisation.
“We have provided health facilities, kits, conducted training of health care providers. There is need for sensitisation of the population on the link between circumcision and HIV prevention,’’ Dr Mbabazi said.
According to statistics, male circumcision stands at 15 percent among men aged 15-59 (DHS 2007/8).
She said that circumcision must be promoted alongside other risk-reduction strategies, including safer sex practices and condom use.
“The national plan targets to reduce new HIV infections by 50 percent among the general population by 2012 and conduct over two million circumcisions by June 2013,’’ Mbabazi revealed.
Dieudonné Ruturwa, from UNAIDS, said that the training informs the public about the evidence and need to scale up the procedure as a preventive strategy.
“There is a global commitment for zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero Aids-related deaths, we need to arraign all measures towards this commitment,’’ Ruturwa said.