Brothers For Life (BFL) hosted a ground breaking dialogue addressing Male Medical Circumcision (MMC). Not an easy topic to discuss, but the BFL team organised a wonderfully successful event. Community members and health officials gathered at the Zola Community Health Clinic in Johannesburg on 17 February 2012 to debate issues of MMC. Delegates from USAID, Department of Health District Office, JHHESA, HIVSA, ANOVA Health Institute, Zola Clinic, CHAPS, Sonke Gender Justice and over 200 community members attended to engage on a tough but crucial subject.
The dialogue kicked off with a short drama on MMC performed by a trio from DrumAide, which served to set the tone of the day. The dialogue covered various topics on MMC and clarified myths and misconceptions of MMC. The key areas discussed were the actual procedure, average healing time and the health benefits of the procedure both to men and women including decreasing HIV infection.
By the end, 55 participants had been counselled and tested for HIV, and 80 men underwent MMC. One excited participant with an interesting story got in touch to discuss her experience.
Our MMC experience – written by a participant of Zola CHC event
The first time the concept of MMC came into my mind was in 2008 when I discovered I was pregnant with a baby boy. It was clear in my mind that I wanted him circumcised when he was born and that was strictly for hygiene reasons. He was born two months prematurely and the doctor advised us to postpone it for a while, my partner (Mthokozisi Mchunu) also started contemplating undergoing MMC.
Come 2010 and MMC is the latest proven HIV reduction method and MMC centres are being opened in some clinics. In September 2011 The Aurum Institute opened the Winnie Mandela Male Sexual Health Clinic in Tembisa and the topic of MMC started again in our home. But then I remembered that I had colleagues at the Winnie Mandela Clinic which meant they would see my fiancé’s goodies and my son was also young and so I threw the idea out of the window.
On 13 February 2012 I received an invitation from Nkosana Dlwati of Sonke Gender Justice to a community dialogue where free MMC would be offered, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to twist my fiancé’s arm to undergo MMC. By this time I am in the field of MMC and I could have a discussion with him about the facts, risks, benefits and whatnots of MMC. Fortunately I didn’t have to do much twisting as he was still up for it.
On 17 February I picked him up on my way to the event; I was the designated post procedure driver by default. He was still eager and wanted to undergo MMC before we attended the event, but we were convinced to attend the event first. We sat in the tent and watched a play of Themba and his girlfriend having a typical couple argument about MMC, at one point my fiancé Mthokozisi raised his hand when we were asked questions about the drama (so he was interacting and interested in what was happening, good news for me). The message was drummed into our heads: ‘THE TIME IS NOW!’ However time was not on our side and Mthokozisi had to be at an appointment at 15:30. So at 14:20 he took my hand and we went searching for the MMC clinic on the Zola Clinic grounds.
The clinic staff was very friendly and very accommodating to us, they invited me to join him in the counselling and procedure rooms. We sat with the counsellor who informed us about the procedure, taking care of the wound, the healing and the dreaded six-week abstinence period. There was a long queue and because of his other appointment we decided to come back the following day for the procedure. Upon hearing this, the nurse offered to let him jump the queue so we do not put it off for ‘another time’. I waited outside while he underwent the MMC and 15 minutes later he walked out (appointment card and painkillers in his hand) – that was 15:00. The look on his face said it all, he was proud to have taken this step regardless of the pain that came about two hours later.
Next morning I woke up, prepared his warm salt water and helped remove his bandages and clean his wound. He cleans his wound three times a day as told by the counsellor and makes sure nobody touches him, the pain is unbearable or so he says.
On Monday 20 February he went for his check-up and says that all is well. He told his friends about his experience and he has an appointment for 21 February with his friend Brian, who was “encouraged by Mthokozisi to go and circumcise!”
Well done to the Brothers For Life team! Viva!