Dear correspondants, editors, and midwives, I need your comments on my final draft, so that I work on it as we are only remaining with a week. I will very much appreciate your comments and corrections!
My OPED final draft.
There is a saying among Zambian women that AIDS can kill us in months or years but hunger can kill me tomorrow.
Despite the abstinence, be faithful and condom (ABC) awareness programs, the ministry of health launched (July 2009) the male circumcision policy with the view to reduce HIV and Aids infection. Every year new infection of HIV and AIDS are reported.
The fight against HIV and Aids can not be effective without addressing the core drivers of HIV and AIDS. Poverty, multiple concurrent partners and alcohol abuse remain core drivers of HIV and AIDS. little attention to eradicate the drivers of HIV is paid by the leaders. 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.
Ever since male circumcision was recommended by World Health Organization and United Nation Aids (2007) as a prevention measure, there has been calls for men to have their foreskin removed by some NGOs and the government through ministry of health. But will male circumcision which requires condom use, combat HIV and AIDS?
Professor Nkandu Lou argued 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.
Two third of the Zambian population of approximately 12million people live in abject poverty. Since the invention of HIV and AIDS in 1984, the poverty levels have continued to accumulate. In the mid 1990th the Zambian economies declined due to the privatization and closer of some companies such as mines. The Zambian government is not strongly addressing poverty situation, as thousands of people still live under unacceptable poverty conditions.
The network for strategic planning reports 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.
Although there is too much emphasis on male circumcision in all corners of the country, excessive alcohol intake among youths is very high. This is due to lack of employment and recreational activities to keep them busy. Thousands of youths find pleasure in drinking and this lends to most of them indulging in sexual activities. HIV and Aids continue to be high among this age group.
Women are at high risk to the male circumcision practice because the practice is uncertain. Culture has it that a man is superior and makes final decision even when it comes to sexual reproductive activities. Hence decides whether to use a condom or not. With the concept of male circumcision been a partial prevention measure, it is uncertain whether circumcised men will even think of a using a condom, since they have been assured that circumcision prevents HIV and AIDS.
A recent British medical journal (17 July 2009) 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. Another concern is are sexually active men able to abstain within six months for their wounds to be healed of which the chances of contracting and infection are high?
International community magazine for women (IWC) 2008 conference, ICW members reported that newly circumcised men happily shared information that they can now have sex without using a condom.
Like the saying goes, HIV and AIDS can kill me in months but hunger can kill me tomorrow. With this saying hundreds of young girls and women have resorted to prostitution in the plight to make ends meet. These girls give out their bodies in exchange for money. It is important that government provide more income generating activities to meet the demands of the girl child.
I urge governments and leaders both local and international to focus on eradicating the drivers of HIV. Creation of employment, promote positive behavior change, and other effective prevention tools such as abstinence, condom use and be faithful (ABC) should be strongly considered in order to combat HIV and AIDS.