Male Circumcision: a measure to prevent HIV

Bhutanese health professionals are advocating male circumcision, which according to a study by WHO and UNAIDS, reduces the transmission of HIV by 60 percent.

Circumcision is a (medical) surgical procedure where the foreskin of the penis is cut and removed. Circumcision is done as religious practice among muslims and Jews and also as a medical procedure.

As a medical purpose, circumcision is mostly done for those with Phimosis, where the foreskin of the penis does not retract and gives problem while urinating said Dr Tandin Dorji. “Since urinary passage is blocked we remove the foreskin which is known as circumcision,” he said. “Male circumcision, based on evidence, is considered very hygienic, with low risk of cancer of penis and in the case of HIV, is a preventive action.”

“In Bhutan now it is time for parents who have a son to consider those health benefit and to do circumcision,” he said. “If government today can spend on circumcising, it will have a high health benefit in future for those children.”

Circumcision is recommended in those countries where the main mode of transmission of HIV is heterosexual, like in Bhutan. In Bhutan circumcision will have to be done in hospital while in other countries, like in Muslim countries, people do it at home.

Circumcision is a minor operation that takes around 15 minutes; it is the removal of skin. The recovery is fast. If it is a child, recovery is within a week, but for older people it might take little longer with urination and erection some times.

The best age to circumcise is between 2 to 3 years as they will not remember the procedure and it won’t be so painful said the doctor.

However, he said, “When we say, circumcising reduces the risk of transmission of HIV, people might think that those people who have circumcised may not have to use condoms or can have usual sexual intercourse, but circumcision must go in hand in hand with other practices”.

“Consistent and correct use of condoms, regular counseling and testing and continued awareness and education on HIV transmission will be encouraged and most importantly, the treatment for sexually transmitted infection must be provided continuously,” he added.

He said the recommendation for advocating circumcision should come from health ministry and National HIV/AIDS commission.  “I think it is worthwhile for the ministry to consider circumcision and I, personally, encourage every male to consider circumcision,” he said.

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