Friday, July 3, 2009

KENYA: Struggling to Meet Demand for Male Circumcision

KISUMU, 1 July 2009 (PlusNews) - Demand for medical male circumcision has been rising in Kenya's south-western Nyanza Province since it became available as part of a package of HIV prevention services in November 2008.

Although local communities do not traditionally practice male circumcision, intensive sensitization programmes by governmental and non-governmental organizations are boosting acceptability.

"We are ensuring that this public health measure is implemented in a culturally sensitive environment, and that men and their families have the information they need to make informed choices," said Dr Jackson Kioko, Nyanza's director of public health.

So far 20,701 men have been medically circumcised at 124 private and public health facilities across Nyanza, the only province where the programme has been rolled out.

Nyanza has the highest HIV prevalence in Kenya - 15.3 percent, more than double the national average - and a low level of male circumcision.

A national task force will coordinate wider implementation of the procedure, and the National AIDS Control Council has set aside 16.1 million Kenya shillings (US$212,500) to encourage greater acceptance of it.

Dominic Oyier, 30, a member of the Luo community, which does not traditionally circumcise men, feared he would be ridiculed by his friends and relatives if he decided to get circumcised. "Later, when I received the information from community sensitizers, I thought it was a good thing, especially when I was told that it can even benefit my wife by reducing her chances of getting cervical cancer," he told IRIN/PlusNews.

"I decided to go for it ... It is a scary experience but it is worth it and even some of my friends consult me because they also want to try it out."

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