29 August 2011

Zimbabwe: Ministers to Be Circumcised

Harare — Zimbabwean Cabinet ministers will be circumcised under a programme meant to reduce the spread of HIV and Aids.

The programme will also target MPs and councillors.

Since a 2005 study in South Africa found that male circumcision reduces the risk of transmitting HIV by 60 per cent in cases of heterosexual sex, Zimbabwe has stepped up the campaign to have men circumcised.

"Circumcised men are eight times less likely to contract HIV," deputy prime minister Thokozani Khupe said.

She told the Sunday News leaders should lead by example if the country is to achieve zero deaths emanating from the scourge. The target is to reach five million people.

The programme started in 2009 on funds by donors such as the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Zimbabwe is one of the few African countries that have witnessed a decline in HIV transmission rates from 29 to 16 per cent between 1997 and 2007 and further down to 13 per cent currently.

Researchers have attributed the trend to behaviour change because of improved public awareness of AIDS deaths and a subsequent fear of contracting the virus.

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