Why men are lining up in droves to be circumcised

In a recent report from FH field staff in Kenya, one of the challenges listed to FH’s new Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision program was that every day, there was a long line of men waiting for the procedure–more men than the project could handle.

The World Health Organization reports that circumcision lowers by about 60 percent the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men, which is why the procedure has exploded in popularity in developing countries the past couple of years.

Earlier this year, FH began advocating this method of HIV prevention across Kenya, providing the surgery to more than 255 men. For men in remote communities with no way to access a health clinic, FH helped bring the clinic to them.

In Marsabit, a rural and impoverished Kenyan community with a high rate of AIDS, FH is collaborating with the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society to brings doctors from 930 miles away to perform the surgery in temporary structures. 

The program is spreading like a viral video on YouTube. By using peer-to-peer education, FH trains volunteers on the process and benefits of circumcision, those volunteers train others, who then train others, and the message spreads. FH uses this peer-to-peer method worldwide to quickly spread important messages like good hygiene, improved nutrition, and Biblical values.

In just six weeks, a small group of peer educators in the Turkana community of Kenya–where circumcision is not traditionally practiced and the AIDS rate is high–identified 150 men of all ages ready to have the surgery. 

60 percent is not 100 percent
One of the challenges with this program is to dispel myths surrounding HIV/AIDS–one of them being that this surgery is a vaccine. In reality, it is only 60 percent effective in lowering the chance of an HIV-negative man being infected by an HIV-positive woman.

Our staff use culturally appropriate ways to teach the science behind the virus and to teach safe behavior like abstinence until marriage and faithfulness to one’s spouse. FH arranges follow-up counseling for those who undergo the surgery.

As for the future, FH plans to expand its advocacy and services for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision as part of FH’s larger HIV/AIDS strategy.

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