Israel helps Africa combat AIDS

Swazi doctors trained by Israelis to perform circumcisions make progress in fight against AIDS.

swaziland circumcision 2 (photo credit: Courtesy JAIP / FLAS)
swaziland circumcision 2
(photo credit: Courtesy JAIP / FLAS)
Doctors in Swaziland trained by an Israeli medical delegation have circumcised over 800 men since January to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS throughout the epidemic-ridden country. Due to Israelis' experience with the procedure, delegates from the Jerusalem AIDS Project (JAIP) partnered with the Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS), both of which are non-governmental organizations, to train doctors to perform circumcisions. Between October 2007 and February 2008, 10 doctors were trained in Swaziland, where they continue to use their learned skills to decrease the spread of infection. During the three weeks that the JAIP medical delegation was in Swaziland, more than 200 men were circumcised, Vusie Norman Dlamini, marketing and communications manager of FLAS, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "This partnership with JAIP has helped not only FLAS, but we strongly believe that the other organizations, including the government, are going to learn from this [alliance]," he said. "[It will help] with the current shortage of surgical doctors in the country, as we scale up male circumcisions to fight HIV and AIDS." Currently 26 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 49 in Swaziland live with HIV, according to the Swaziland Demographic and Heath Survey conducted in 2006 and 2007 - the highest percentage in the world. Dlamini said he hoped the FLAS and JAIP partnership would serve as a model that could be referenced by other countries "hit hard" by HIV/AIDS, adding that the statistics meant that around 260,000 people out of Swaziland's population of one million were living with HIV. "I think the situation has improved since the partnership," he said. "It has really helped us make sure that we provide better services in terms of both quality and serving a greater number of clients." Although the results are not immediate, Dlamini said he believed the medical procedures would have a strong impact in the near future. Not only will circumcisions decrease the risk of spreading infection, he said, but the medical center will also encourage men to get tested. According to a study published by the Public Library of Science in 2006, researchers estimate that male circumcision procedures in Sub-Saharan Africa could prevent two million cases and 300,000 deaths over a 10-year period. New scientific research on HIV/AIDS is currently being presented at the 17th International AIDS Conference, which ends on Friday and is being held this year in Mexico City. Both Israel and Swaziland are participants in the six-day conference, which aims to share knowledge and increase dialogue between countries on the topic. The theme of this year's conference is "Universal Action Now," calling for a global response to the epidemic. "We hope the conference will come with a clear road map for HIV prevention," Dlamini said.