Government’s mixed feelings on male circumcision evident in rural areas too
“I am Aleku Geofrey from Arua. In our community what I've seen is HIV/AIDS has become too common in youths and adults too. So what can be done to avoid this?”
As has become norm in Uganda over the past years, government and private health care providers and government are responding to concerns like Aleku’s by encouraging male circumcision and offering the services. Their efforts are being well received by citizens such as Andemani Isaac who cheerfully echoes what sounds like a typical circumcision drive message. “Safe male circumcision has made our youth aware. It reduces the high risk of HIV infection, studies show.” His area is receiving male circumcision services from Baylor Uganda.
However, the mixed feeling that have plagued this approach to HIV prevention haunt it all the way to the grassroots. Moreover, the detracting messages about it also come from government’s own representatives. Case in point: At an event in Lira in July about two months ago, Janet Museveni, the First Lady and Minister for Karamoja, was reported to have scoffed at the practice. John Patrick Olara a local who attended the meeting reported to News-Hapa that the lady, “condemned safe male circumcision as encouraging youths to indulge in unsafe sex 'since they refer to it as "permanent condom". He added that she also “expressed sorrow on men who entrust their lives in the hands of condoms.” This was at an event to launch a drive fo yet another way of fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS – prevention of mother to child transmission. The event was attended by an estimated 2000 locals.
To cut or not to cut? It depends on which government ear you speak your question into.