WASHINGTON DC —
Ernest Dhlamini of Mbabane city, Swaziland, was circumcised in 2006, to enjoy what he calls a clean life.
Dhlamini says he is worried that a large number of men circumcised under current programs funded by international organizations, are now abandoning condoms and engaging in unsafe sex.
He says this is a blow to programs implemented in 2009 by some African nations in an effort to curb the spread of HIV.
“There are many circumcised men who think that by being circumcised they can now have unprotected sex at will. They think that they can no longer contract HIV.”
This promiscuous behaviour is attracting the attention of some married women, who are now blocking their partners from the medical procedure.
Zimbabwean senator, Sithembile Mlotshwa, believes male circumcision is causing a lot of havoc in most southern African communities as circumcised men forgo the use of condoms.
"You tend to think that if this man goes through circumcision he is going to be too much. So, you are thinking I have been married to this man for so many years then why is he preparing his organ.”
Mlotshwa argues that those abandoning condoms believe they are too clean to contract HIV.
“After you are circumcised then you ask why you are protecting yourself.”
Commercial sex workers have taken advantage of the situation, charging more money for providing services to circumcised men who don’t care whether the ladies of the night are HIV positive or not. Two commercial sex workers operating in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, say these circumcised men are having sex with them at their own risk.
“These circumcised men say they do not have any diseases because they were circumcised. In most cases they offer us a lot of money. One of the circumcised men I had sex with on the first day gave me $100. I am now HIV positive but there is nothing I can do. This man is always coming back for more sex even though he does not know my HIV status.”
Officials in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland say they are fighting these myths among circumcised men to ensure they do not contract and spread HIV.
To worsen the situation in these nations, some people strongly believe that foreskins are being used for witchcraft purposes.
Some traditional healers confirm that they have been approached by business people seeking foreskins to boost their enterprises.
Healer Hlanganani Dungeni operating from Zimbabwe’s Makokoba high density says foreskins should never be used for any purpose.
“Some come here looking for foreskins but we do not give them anything because as members of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association we do not use it.”
Dungeni says all foreskins are burnt, following a traditional circumcision procedure just like what happens in hospitals where they are incinerated. "This is normally witnessed by those attending those ceremonies.”
But, Mlotshwa doubts that all foreskins are burnt or incinerated soon after a circumcision ceremony.
"If some business people know that they are foreskins of all races in a garbage bin in some hospitals, they will always try to get all that in order to boost their businesses. Africans always want to develop their businesses by all means and that includes using foreskins”
Some HIV/AIDS experts say there is a need for further research on the effectiveness of male circumcision as some circumcised men may be spreading HIV at an alarming rate.
In part three of our series on male circumcision, we will focus on varying views on conducting further research to strengthen modern male circumcision programs in Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa.