28 Dec A Choice Where Everyone wins: Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision
Healthy relationships require equal decision-making practices, which includes decisions about safe sexual practices and protecting one another from the transmission of HIV and STIs. This can include choices about condom use and other forms of contraception, as well as the sexual practices that each partner is willing to engage in. Each person has the right to make decisions about their own sexual health that can be beneficial for both them and their future sexual partners.
Historically, men have been positioned as the head of their households, and as providers for their families. Whilst gender norms are shifting and more equitable gender roles are becoming more common, men are still role models for their families and communities by making decisions with the entire family in mind. Making these choices with a partner only makes them easier.
One of these decisions that men can make is the choice to undergo voluntary male medical circumcision (VMMC). VMMC involves a single surgery that can provide a man and his partner with partial protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for life. Studies have shown that circumcised men are 60% less likely to contract HIV from an infected female partner, reduces his risk of penile and prostate cancer by an estimated 39% and reduces the risk of cervical cancer for his female sexual partner. Due to the reduction in risk for circumcised men in acquiring HPV and hence also transmitting it, the biological advantages of circumcision extends far beyond just protection against HIV.
Making responsible sexual choices is one way that men can continue to be leaders in their families and communities. VMMC benefits entire families, and through reducing the spread of HIV and STIs it helps to keep communities healthy. Many men learn about the option from a peer or family member, so by getting circumcised and by talking about VMMC as a responsible option, men are able to take the lead in their communities, encouraging healthier choices and practices.
Women also have an important role to play in encouraging and promoting VMMC, by talking with their sexual partners and with other women to ensure that information on the benefits of the surgical intervention are shared.
VMMC ambassadors and the JPS Mobile VMMC Unit are two examples of these community-based strategies, which can significantly contribute to the reduction in the number of HIV infections worldwide in the next decade. Using the services that JPS Africa provides, as well as other VMMC services around South Africa, men have an opportunity to lead communities by getting information about procedures, sharing this information with their partners and friends, and by undergoing VMMC.
It’s a choice a man can make that can change the lives of his family and his community.