Tanzania male MPs face circumcision call to stop HIV spread

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Tanzania male MPs face circumcision call to stop HIV spread
Men in several African countries have been encouraged to undergo circumcision to reduce their risk of getting HIV. * AFP
Men in several African countries have been encouraged to undergo circumcision to reduce their risk of getting HIV. * AFP

(BBC) — A female MP in Tanzania has called for checks to determine whether or not her male colleagues have undergone circumcision – a procedure known to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

Jackline Ngonyani said any MPs found not to have been circumcised should be required to undergo the procedure.

Her suggestion divided opinion among her colleagues.

HIV is seen as a major threat to public health in Tanzania. Around 70% of the male population is circumcised.

Around 5% of Tanzania’s adult population is believed to have been infected by HIV – giving it the 13th highest rate of infection in the world, according to figures from 2016.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexual men contracting HIV by around 60%.

Several African countries that are fighting HIV epidemics have launched campaigns to encourage men to undergo the procedure, which involves surgically removing the foreskin from the penis.

Ms Ngonyani made the comments during a debate in parliament about how to curb the spread of HIV in the country.

Her suggestion was backed by MP Joseph Selasini.

In neighbouring Kenya, some top politicians voluntarily submitted to the procedure in 2008 as a way of encouraging men from their communities to do the same.

However, MP Joseph Kasheku opposed Ms Ngonyani’s proposal, describing it as uncouth and invasive.

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  1. She should be removed from her position. If he same was asked of a woman it would be regarded as sexual harassment. There were studies done that showed a decrease in HIV infection among circumcised women so she should get circumcised as well if she wants to go down that rabbit hole. Condoms work he best to prevent HIV, sexually transmitted diseases as well as pregnancy. Circumcision doesn’t not prevent disease but does cause life long damage by severing nerves permanently.

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  2. Many professionals have criticized the studies claiming that circumcision reduces HIV transmission. The investigators did not seek to determine the source of the HIV infections during their studies. They assumed all infections were heterosexually transmitted.

    Many HIV infections in Africa are transmitted by contaminated injections and surgical procedures. The absolute rate of HIV transmission reduction is only 1.3%, not the claimed 60%. Even if the claim were true, based on the studies, about 60 men had to be circumcised to prevent one HIV infection.

    Authorities that cite the studies have other agendas including political and financial. Research shows that circumcision causes physical, sexual, and psychological harm. This harm is ignored by circumcision advocates. Other methods to prevent HIV transmission (e.g., condoms and sterilizing medical instruments) are much more effective, much cheaper, and much less invasive. Even HIV/circumcision studies advise using condoms. With condoms circumcision adds no benefit to HIV prevention.

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