Malawi ‘no’ to circumcision as tool to stop HIV/AIDs: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 1, 2010 p 8. October 3, 2010Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Health/HIV-AIDS.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
The government of Malawi has rejected calls to promote circumcision as a prophylactic against HIV/AIDs.
In a Sept 7 address to Malawi’s 2010 HIV & AIDS Research and Best Practices Conference, the chairman of the country’s National Aids Commission, Archbishop Bernard Malango said that a comparison of the rates of infection in Muslim districts, where most men are circumcised, to that of Christian areas of Malawi, where circumcision is not practiced, showed no difference in the rate of infections.
“We have no scientific evidence that circumcision is a sure way of slowing down the spread of AIDS,” Dr. Mary Shaba, the government’s chief HIV/AIDS officer added.
The UNAIDS agency estimates that approximately 930,000 people, or 12 per cent of Malawi’s population, are living with HIV of whom 840,000 are adults aged 15 and above.
However, the archbishop said the 12 per cent prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS does not accurately reflect the incidences of the disease in the country,
Archbishop Malango said that most overseas NGOs look at the overall rate of infection, or the prevalence of the disease, within the population when devising prevention and treatment strategies. However in Malawi, the rate of new infections has been decreasing, while people with HIV/AIDS were living longer, thus keeping the prevalence rate at 12 per cent.
“With the continued scale up of the treatment programme, we will have more and more people alive and therefore considerably contributing to the high prevalence of HIV,” Archbishop Malango said.
“The number of those who were already infected is being maintained and by 2015, we should minimize the new infections by educating people,” the archbishop said.
Dr. Shaba told the conference the number of new cases was estimated to be 90,000 per year. “The difference between incidence and prevalence is that incidence is number of infections that are taking place now while prevalence is the number of people who are considered positive at that time.”
“The prevalence has been 12 per cent for a long time but we need to look at how many infections are taking place. If we are going to move from prevalence from 12 per cent to almost zero, it means the incidences are the ones which have to be zero,” she said.