Circumcisions are in for summer!

The main benefit of circumcision is that it reduces the chance of contracting HIV/Aids by 60 percent.

South Africans have traditionally believed that male medical circumcisions (MMCs) should be done in winter. “This shouldn’t be the case,” said Dr Khumbulani Moyo, medical male circumcision general manager of Right to Care. “We find long queues during the winter months and our clinics are virtually empty during the summer months.

“Circumcisions during the holiday season offer a perfect time as people take time off from work. Even those that are working, we suggest circumcisions on a Friday so they can recuperate on the weekend and be back at work on Monday.”

According to Moyo, winter circumcisions are more popular based on misconceptions. Some think the wound will heal quicker during the winter months. Apparently this isn’t true. It takes the same time no matter what time of year the procedure is done. “We encourage patients to take good care of themselves after the procedure. This simply means cleaning the wound twice a day and avoiding sex or masturbation for six weeks.”

Right to Care is a non-profit organisation which supports and delivers prevention, care, and treatment services for HIV and TB. Through technical assistance, Right to Care supports the private sector, the Department of Health and the Department of Correctional Services. In addition, through direct service delivery, Right to Care treats patients for HIV, TB, cervical cancer, medical male circumcision and sexually transmitted infections.

He added that there is also a belief that traditional circumcisions are only done during the winter months but, in fact, they are active during school holidays and are done throughout the year.

The MMC procedure is performed free at clinics, community health centres and district hospitals across the country. Right to Care also has a network of private general practitioners who perform circumcisions for free.

There are numerous benefits to an MMC. The main benefit is that it reduces the chance of contracting HIV/Aids by 60 percent and it also reduces the risks of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. There are benefits for women as well. If her partner is circumcised, it reduces her risk of getting cervical cancer.

Moyo emphasised that MMCs are performed by highly trained doctors or nurses and the procedure is done under local anaesthetic. So, besides the injection, there will be no pain and it takes only 30 minutes. Patients are given pain killers to manage discomfort when the anaesthetic wears off. Only one follow-up visit is required and stitches fall out within two weeks.

More than 1.8 million circumcisions have been performed in South Africa as part of the Department of Health’s HIV prevention strategy. Right to Care has performed almost 600 000 of these in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

The Department of Health said it wants to ensure that 4.3 million males aged between 15 and 49 are circumcised in five years. If this can be achieved, there will be a significant impact on the HIV epidemic by averting more than 1.2 million infections and it could save the country more than R48 billion in HIV-related costs.

Right to Care encourages voluntary medical male circumcision for men and boys, although minors younger than 18 years of age need parental consent.


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