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Malawi Catholic Endorse Circumcision for AIDS Prevention. 1/2/12

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Circumcision should be conducted in its health facilities and not at homes or other places.

Malawi News

1 February 2012

Malawi Catholic Bishops have endorsed government’s move to have male subjects circumcised as significant intervention towards the reduction of the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Strong medical evidence suggests that men without a foreskin are 60 percent less likely to get HIV, the virus that can lead to deadly killer AIDS.

But the Catholic Bishops at a plenary meeting in Lilongwe recommended that the circumcision should be conducted in its health facilities and not at homes or other places.

Catholic bishops endorse the prodecure

Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) spokesman Father George Buleya said they made the decision to support circumcision after consultation with the church’s health experts.

“Circumcision can reduce the risk of catching diseases through sexual intercourse. We have examined theological texts and found no opposition to it,” the cleric said.

He, however, said the influential Catholic church was still opposed to condom usage as contraception.

Low levels of male circumcision, inconsistent and low condom use, mother to child transmission (MTCT), multiple and concurrent partnerships (MCP), are some of the main drivers of HIV/AIDS.

Reasonable prevention

Father Buleya said the Catholic bishops noted that circumcision is a reasonable prevention method when combined with other measures

“Abstinence and faithfulness are still the only sure ways to protect against this virus,” he said.

The Catholic Church says their messages of sexual abstinence and faithfulness in marriage have significantly helped to fight HIV.

It warns that circumcision should not make people feel that they have become vaccinated against the disease and ignore safer sexual practices.

Circumcision is common among Muslims and some tribes in Malawi, but is not universally practiced.

Since reports emerged that circumcision may slow the spread of HIV, an increasing number of men have flocked to hospitals for the procedure.

Expert report

According to Sydney Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Norman Blumenthal , circumcision reduces by up to five times the risk of the man’s female partner being infected by Chlamydia or getting cervical cancer (which is caused by human papillomavirus).

He says credible research shows that most women prefer the appearance of the circumcised penis. They also prefer it for sexual activity. Hygiene is one reason; increased contact of the penis with the vaginal wall, and stimulation, are others.

In general, sexual function and sensation are the same or better in circumcised men. The problem of overly tender sensitivity of the head of the penis experienced by most uncircumcised men is virtually eliminated.