With the news all around the globe that Rwanda has began a mass circumcision campaign, a lot of questions are rising up, wondering if this strategy is going to bring down the chances of contracting HIV, AIDS.
Is it true anyway that one’s foreskin increases the risk of contracting the deadly viral disease that has no cure up to this day? The answer to this is YES, according to Dr Gerald Weiss, an American surgeon, "The foreskin is composed of an outer layer that has an inside lining and an inner lining, and that has a mucus surface. The inner layer of the foreskin becomes a repository for shed cells, secretions, and urinary residue that accumulates. It is also a hospitable environment for the growth of bacteria and other micro-organisms."
Circumcision is the removal of some or the entire foreskin from the penis. Medical research done at the University of Manitoba showed that circumcision was good and did protect males from HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases infection. In March 2007, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS stated that male circumcision is an effective intervention for HIV prevention but also stated that male circumcision only provided partial protection and should not replace other interventions to prevent the heterosexual transmission of HIV. Circumcision activists also say and recommend this method as a major public health measure that can prevent infections and decrease the spread of AIDS.
Even though there are positives associated with circumcision, there are also negatives associated with it and these include bleeding, penile injury, local infection, as well as the consequences of the pain experienced with circumcision. All these and more pose a big and valid concern that requires to be addressed.
Most Rwandan people that have, so far, been interviewed on whether they think that this circumcision exercise is going to yield positive or negative results, show that they have little or no knowledge about circumcision. Among their fears are these consequences involved. "A decision, therefore, as to whether to recommend male circumcision in a given society should be based upon an assessment of the risk for and occurrence of the diseases which are associated with the presence of the foreskin, versus the risk of the complications of the procedure. In order for individuals and their families to make an informed decision, they should be provided with the best available evidence regarding the known benefits and risks."
It is for this reason, that the Rwandan government should set up other additional strategies to sensitize masses about the circumcision or else it will not be the most effective way to reduce risks of contracting infections. Either, people may think that circumcision has come to prevent them from contracting HIV and then begin another sexual spree or people will completely ignore this circumcision gospel.
The media can be used to help sensitize masses about circumcision. Like the mass educative programs that saw Rwanda from 11% of adults infected with HIV to 3% of adults infected with HIV record, circumcision equally needs mass educative programs in all media channels.
Social workers and voluntary workers should be dispatched off to various parts of the country to educate masses about circumcision, its pros and cons, risks and benefits involved and the relation between circumcision and HIV infection.