Swakopmund – On March 9th, the U.S. Government joined the Ministry of Health and Social Services in commemorating yet another milestone of Namibia’s fight against HIV as the country managed to get 270,000 young boys and men circumcised, with support of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
“The risk of contracting HIV is reduced by up to 60% in men who are circumcised in comparison to men who are not circumcised. This is a substantial argument in favour of Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC),” highlighted Deputy PEPFAR Country Coordinator Mao Tjiroze before a crowd of several hundred people at the Mondesa Sports Ground on the outskirts of Swakopmund to celebrate this achievement.
Since 2015, PEPFAR has invested US$40 million to support VMMC services in Namibia, of which in 2019, US$15 million were invested through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the Scaling-up Access for Expanded Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (SAFE VMMC) project to increase VMMC coverage in Namibia.
Circumcision remains a crucial component of the country’s strategy to reduce HIV transmission. Apart from significantly reducing the probability for men to contract HIV by 60%, circumcision also benefits women in improving hygiene, and lowering the risk for sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which can cause cervical cancer.
The five-year SAFE VMMC program is implemented by Abt Associates in twelve regions, including the Erongo region, to contribute to the government’s goal to circumcise 90% of the priority group of 15- to 29-year-old males by 2028. Currently, the country has achieved 64%. Uncircumcised adolescent boys and men are encouraged to get the SmartCut to help save Namibian lives and reach an AIDS-free generation.