UKZN BCom students Mr Mxolisi Mazibuko and
Mr Sithabiso Zwane who recently underwent
medical male circumcision (MMC).

Lack of information and fear of pain are the main reasons male students fear getting circumcised, say two UKZN students who recently underwent medical male circumcision (MMC).

In an Interview with UKZNOnline, BCom students Mr Mxolisi Mazibuko and Mr Sithabiso Zwane shared their experiences about how circumcision had changed their lives and empowered them.

The UKZN MMC Campaign together with the University’s Men’s Forum programme was launched on the Howard College Campus in April through the cooperative effort between UKZN, the Department of Health, the eThekwini Municipality and partner NGOs.

Head of the UKZN HIV/AIDS Centre Ms Nomonde Magantolo said the aim of the MMC campaign at institutions of higher learning was to strengthen the prevention interventions which already existed.

‘The campaign was not only about circumcision but also to give educational talks on how a real man should behave and relate to other people in society. It also encouraged men to take a leading role in protecting themselves and their loved ones,’ said Magantolo.

Zwane said he decided to get circumcised because he felt it would benefit his personal health and he also wanted to protect his girlfriend against diseases such as cancer of the cervix.

Many students were not keen to undergo the procedure because of misinformation and a fear of pain. Another myth circulating concerned the issue of what was done with the foreskin after circumcision.

The MMC procedure is a comprehensive prevention package of services offering partial protection (60%) against sexually acquired HIV in men. The services include HIV testing and counselling; correct and consistent use of female or male condoms; treatment for sexually transmitted infections; and the promotion of safer sexual practices, such as avoidance of penetrative sex.

According to Brothers for Life, circumcision improves hygiene, eliminates bruising and tearing during sex, removes cells which attract HIV, and provides health benefits for sexual partners.

The organisation says MMC is good for a women’s health too as it reduces the risk of getting cervical cancer by removing the human papilloma virus that is often carried in the foreskin.

As part of the campaign launch on the Howard College campus, an onsite circumcision clinic was set up with KZN MEC for Health Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo part of the team that circumcised the students. Fifty-five men were circumcised on site during the launch.

Magantolo said a total of 96 procedures had been done on the Durban and Westville campuses since the campaign launch in April.  ‘The response from male students has been good.’

Dhlomo shared his concerns on the ‘Sugar Daddy issue’, which involves older men going out with young girls particularly at school and tertiary institutions. He said a responsible father in a ‘fancy car’ would not be seen at a girls’ residences late at night.

Two procedures are done during circumcision. One is the conventional method which involves ‘cutting and stitching’ followed by check-ups after three, seven and 21 days.

The second type of procedure is the Tara Klamp in which there is no loss of blood This involves clamping a plastic device over the foreskin for seven to ten days until the skin falls off. Check-ups are also done at three, five and 21 days.

UKZN’s Ms Eleanor Langley emphasised that students still needed to take precautions when having sex. Langley said even though circumcision reduced the chance of HIV infection, proper protection prevented sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Mazibuko encouraged students to come forward while still on campus where there was free access to clinics.

Langley complications discussed in individual screening sessions included bleeding and body reactions. ‘It is important to take care of the wound correctly.’

UNAIDS says that from 2011 to the beginning of 2013 more than 300 000 men have undergone medical male circumcision in KZN decreasing their risk of HIV infection. Although it remains high, the overall HIV prevalence among 15-24-year-old men dropped from 31% in 2009 to 25.5% in 2011.

Other organisations and speakers present at the launch included CAPRISA’s Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Councillor Ms Lindiwe Mhlongo-Ntaka, Mr Sandile Mdluli of Brothers for Life, and representatives from eThekwini Municipality, DOH and the KZN Departments of Arts and Culture.

The UKZN HIV and Wellness Programme works together with St Aidan’s Hospital, Sactwu, MatCH and other DOH institutions when circumcisions are done.

‘’We hope will reach our target of 500MMC in 2013,’ said Magantolo.