If you turn on a radio in Zimbabwe these days, it won’t be long before you hear a public service spot featuring the voice of a deejay who goes by the name “Napster the Radio Master.”
Napster tells his audience that just before he got married he decided to get circumcised “so that my wife would find me clean and desirable.” He also notes that he later found out that circumcision helps protect women from contracting cervical cancer — adding, “Well, that was just the cherry on top!”
The ad is a centerpiece of an unprecedented campaign in Africa over the past several years to promote circumcision as a way to prevent HIV. This week researchers announced that the program has reached a remarkable milestone: Six million men and teenagers were convinced.
But the goal is to get 14 million more to sign up by 2016, and even at the current pace, public health officials are not on track to achieve that number. So they believe they need to change their message. That’s why Napster doesn’t mention the words HIV or AIDS in his radio spot.
he drive to circumcise men kicked off in 14 African countries after studies demonstrated that getting circumcised reduces a man’s chances of contracting HIV by 60 percent. (Removing the foreskin creates a less hospitable environment for the virus.)
Health officials then ran the numbers. They determined that if 80 percent of teenage and adult men in 14 countries in Southern and Eastern Africa — where circumcision is not commonly practiced — were to get “the cut” by 2016, there would be 3.4 million fewer new infections through 2025.
At first just stating the purpose of the campaign seemed sufficient. But for a lot of men, the downsides of going under the knife just don’t seem worth the benefit.
WORLD AIDS DAY - December 1, 2012
Video Report: In Zimbabwe, village health workers play an essential role in the primary healthcare system and the fight against HIV/AIDS
Women are the focus of World AIDS Day this year. From mothers and caregivers to healthcare workers and policy-makers, women are essential to reaching an AIDS-free generation, which is within reach, at long last.
With AIDS still the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age globally and the main cause of child mortality in countries with high HIV prevalence, UNICEF is featuring women whose strength and resilience help face the realities of the disease from fighting stigma to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV.