OpEd, Politics

Male circumcision alone is not enough to prevent STDs

By Esther Lohutuhureng

People can get or transmit the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) through sex or during birth. It can also be transmitted during breastfeeding from an infected mother to her child or during the injection of a drug by using infected syringes or sharing sharp objects. HIV, if not treated, can lead to AIDS. In the statement by one of Radio Miraya presenters, over five hundred males have been circumcised in Tonj, Warrap State. The purpose of circumcision was to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Studies have shown that male circumcision can reduce the chances of acquiring HIV by 50% to 60% during heterosexual contact with female partners with HIV. However, the youth show great interest in STD prevention in the country. The question arises, ‘Does male circumcision alone prevent STDS?’ Certainly not, because evidence has shown that some circumcised males in different parts of the country are HIV positive. This indicates that any male, whether circumcised or not, can contract STDs if he has had unprotected sex with an infected female, regardless of his circumcision status. Not to mention that male circumcision does not protect women from contracting STDs.

It is well known that HIV testing is very essential for preventing HIV infection because if the person tests positive and starts taking antiretroviral drugs (ARV) immediately after the diagnosis, it would add an advantage to his or her life. It is quite certain that among those youth, some are positive, yet they don’t know their status. Nevertheless, the circumcision campaign would have been much more fruitful if the youth had been tested as well. Moreover, HIV positives are almost everywhere in every institution in the country, including teachers, doctors, and members of parliament as well.

Besides circumcision, the Medical Corps of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces South Sudan (SSPDF) should raise awareness about HIV self-test kits among the youth in Tonj, Warrap State. These self-test kits are very functional for knowing one’s HIV status, and they have a number of advantages. First, it is easy to use, and the person does not need to go to the hospital in order to know the status; rather, it is available in pharmacies. In addition, the partners can do the test from home, which can reduce the chances of forging the results. Therefore, the time has come for the youth and elderly to learn how to use the HIV self-testing kit, which is very easy to use and can be used from the person’s most comfortable place, such as at home or in hotels.

The government plays an important role in reducing the spread of HIV by improving the economy of the country. The government should improve the living standards of its people because one of the factors contributing to the increase in new infections is poverty. The majority of people are living below the poverty level. Some women don’t have reliable sources of income, so without realizing it, they find themselves working as sex workers. They ended up going around having sex in exchange for money in order to put food on the table, not knowing that they were also buying death to herself, her partner, and other future children if no proper attention was paid.

An HIV-positive person should make sure that he or she is honest with his or her partner so that they don’t infect the negative partner. To eliminate sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, in the country, each and every one of us has a role to play, and together we can achieve zero HIV in South Sudan.

The writer can be reached via Tel: 0921492857; Email: Esther090119@gmail.com

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