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More to HIV than partial prevention

There is a saying among Zambian women that AIDS can kill me in months or years but hunger can kill me tomorrow. Despite the uncertainty of male circumcision as a prevention method our leaders through ministry of health launched the male circumcision policy last month. This is with a view to reduce the HIV infection especially among men.

As a concerned woman and person working in an HIV environment I feel the war against HIV and Aids can not be effective without addressing the core drivers. Poverty, multiple concurrent partners and alcohol abuse remain core drivers of HIV and AIDS. In as much as the leaders continue to embrace and donate millions of kwacha to new partial prevention measures male circumcision, and avoid the core drivers of the pandemic, HIV will continue to spread.

However since the invasion of HIV and AIDS 25 years ago in Zambia, prevention methods such as condom use abstinence and be faithful has been widely preached but no greater impact has been seen. There is more to HIV then prevention. Male circumcision will only increase the spread of HIV than actually reducing the spread of the virus. So far reports in communities are that male circumcision prevents a man from passing on or contracting the HIV infection. International community magazine for women confirm that newly circumcised men happily shared information that they can now have sex without using a condom.

As I discovered in a recent journal new reports suggest that circumcising HIV-positive men does not reduce the risk of their female partners becoming HIV-infected. This implies that male circumcision protects a man more than a woman. Women are at high risk to the male circumcision practice because the practice is uncertain. Culture has it that a man makes final decision even when it comes to sexual reproductive activities. Hence decides whether or not to use a condom. But will male circumcision reduce the spread of HIV?

I agree with Professor Lou who allured to the fact that HIV and AIDS is a complex issue. The fight against HIV and AIDS has to be thought through, male circumcision alone as a strategy can not be used as an intervention to fight HIV.

Living in a developing nation has also enabled me to realize that unless we kick out poverty, Levels of HIV and AIDS cannot be reduced. Two thirds of Zambian populations of approximately 12 million people live in abject poverty. The poverty level has not only slowed the development process but has enabled many youths and women to be involved in dubious means. Although our government has put in place some measures to alleviate poverty, it is not enough as hundreds of people keep losing their Jobs. Hence the poverty levels continue to accumulate. The networks for strategic planning reports confirm that, in Zambia the spread of HIV/AIDS and poverty are strongly linked. Therefore addressing HIV/AIDS issues that matter to the poor is critical to reducing the infection among the poor. .

Like the saying goes, HIV and AIDS can kill me in months but hunger can kill me tomorrow .Hundreds of young girls, and women have resorted to prostitution in the plight to make ends meet. I know of girls, some friends others relatives who have lost their lives in search of money. Most of these girls and young women give out their bodies in exchange for money so that they feed themselves and their families.

Excessive alcohol abuse among youths remains a challenge. Due to high unemployment and inadequate empowerment programs many youths resort to alcohol. Most youths spent their morning, afternoon and evening in drinking places and as a result end up indulging in sexual activities. Hence the high levels of HIV and AIDS among the 15-35 age groups. Multiple concurrent partners also remain a challenge as there are few programs in place to look at behavior change.

I urge our leaders both local and international to focus on eradicating the drivers of HIV. They should focus on poverty alleviation, create employment, introduce more empowerment programs, and promote positive behavior change. Increase awareness of condom use, abstinence and be faithful programs.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.

Comments

Nusrat Ara's picture

A wonderful piece.

A wonderful piece.

Nusrat

Dando's picture

Thanks Nustrat

for the comment.

Love and hugz

Dando

jadefrank's picture

Powerful

Hi Dando,

Wow... what a powerful Op-Ed. I have been reading about the new studies and programs for male circumcision as a prevention measure for HIV/AIDS and was wondering what the effects would be. Your opinion on this issue is so meaningful as you are a woman living in the thick of it and you have already seen the effects of these measures result in men who assume they are now free to have unprotected sex as a result of circumcision. Rather than taking a step forward in HIV and AIDS prevention, it seems a step has been taken backward as a result of the measures.

What will it take for Zambia, for Africa and for the world to focus its sights on prevention through eradication of the drivers you points out such as eradicating poverty, empowering women, promoting condom use, etc? What can we do?

Thank you for writing this important piece!

Peace,
Jade

Dando's picture

Jade

thanks once again for your inspiring comment.
well I think it will take efforts and willingness for us, our leaders and everyone to eradicate the drivers so as to combant HIV and AIDS. We can continue raising our voices on such issues and get our leaders to start doing something. Like the situation is in my country, most companies like mines are runned by investors. these investors come and go and people keep on losing their jobs. Like I said in my post, there is need for Job creation and more empowerment programs especially for the youths and women. Hope I have answered your question.

I could also like to hear from you, what can we do?

with Love and Peace

Dando

stella Ndugire- Mbugua's picture

I now know so much about your

I now know so much about your country.
thanks for doing a splendid job to inform us on the situation...very important!

love,

Regards,

Stella Ndugire- Mbugua
ICS- Africa

Dando's picture

Hi Stella

thanks for finding time to leave a commet on my post.
Am glad you have leant more about my country, hope you can come and spent some vacations at the victoria falls, its so beautiful there!

Love you

Dando

michellee's picture

nicely done

Dando,

Your article is very polished. Nice work.

Michelle

Michelle

Dando's picture

Michelle

Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate.

with Love

giftypearl.abenaab's picture

Great!

Good job!!!!!!!!!!! you give us a reason to wake up and uproot HIV in our world.

Wishing you the very best in this journey.

Gifty Pearl Abenaab
Founder
Greight Foundation
www.greightfoundation.org

Dando's picture

Thank you

Sweetie!

Best of Luck too

Jennifer Ruwart's picture

Controversial topic

Until I was pregnant with a boy, I did not know that circumcision for boys was such a controversial topic. Growing up in Kansas, it went without saying that male newborns were circumcised. However, when my OB/GYN told me that she doesn't perform them, Shawn and I started to do research and talk to people.

The American Pediatrics Association has stated that male circumcision is not medically necessary and can actually lead to desensitization of the male penis. We also talked to a lot of people. We were surprised by how upset is made some people, how other people took it at face value as a necessary operation for a newborn, and at how many mentioned STDs as a reason to get Jonah circumcised. Shawn's comment was that if Jonah contracts an STD, we have not done a good job as parents teaching him safe sex.

In the end, we decided against it for the same reasons we are against FGM. It is medically unnecessary, and to us, constitutes a form of abuse.

I feel strongly about your op-ed as it personal for me. We must address the root causes of the spread of HIV, which you clearly point out in your op-ed. We should not encourage mutilation of our unique gifts as men and women. It's sad and frustrating.

Great job.

Jennifer Ruwart
Chief Collaborator
JR Collaborations

Dando's picture

Its sad to learn

about what you went through. I think its a good decision you made at the end of it all. it is better to teach a child then actually doing something to him, which can be regrated letter on. I equally disagree with parents who circumcise their babies. it is best if a child is taught so that when he is old enough he can as well make his own decision then imposing a decision on him.
Thanks for sharing with me and everywoman about your experience. for sure we should discourage mutilation of our gifts!

Lots of Love

Dando

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