Israelis train Africans to circumcise against AIDS

The effort is part of the Operation Abraham project headed by Dr. Inon Schenker.

June 24, 2012 21:43
1 minute read.
Doctors perform circumcision

Doctors perform circumcision 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Operation Abraham)

A group of Israeli experts on performing circumcision have taught African women doctors to circumcise men to reduce the risk of HIV infection.

The effort is part of the Operation Abraham project headed by Dr. Inon Schenker.

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This was revealed on Sunday in a report summarizing 18 months of activity by the project, which includes 14 African countries. Using local anesthetic, the female doctors – who had little experience in the operation – learned to remove the foreskins using only local anesthetics in a community clinic, even though the surgery was on adult men. At present, they perform some 100 of the operations every day.

The Israeli project has trained 17 medical teams at 13 hospitals in KwaZulu- Natal in South Africa.

Schenker, a veteran AIDS prevention specialist based in Jerusalem, said that each circumcision performed prevents five cases of HIV infection in a continent where AIDS is endemic. The Israelis were accepted because of the country’s long experience with performing ritual circumcision on adult immigrants who want to become formally Jewish. The project has been recommended by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS for reducing the spread of HIV.

Members of Zimbabwe’s parliament decided this weekend to undergo circumcision to promote their country’s campaign to have the surgery to reduce transmission of the AIDS virus. They hoped that by serving as an example, many other men in Zimbabwe would undergo the surgery as well.

According to St. Mary’s Hospital in Mariannhill, South Africa – an impoverished rural and “peri-urban” area on the outskirts of Durban – “this groundbreaking initiative has already prevented thousands of South African men from acquiring HIV.”

One-third of the people living in the area are HIV positive – the highest incidence of HIV in the country and indeed, the world – and 60 percent are unemployed. The government-aided Catholic mission hospital treats the “poorest of the poor.”

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