Rwanda in mass circumcision drive

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Soldiers and policemen are being urged to be circumcised

Rwanda has launched a campaign to encourage all men to be circumcised, to reduce the risk of catching HIV/Aids.
A health minister told the BBC that soldiers, policemen and students would be asked to come forward first for circumcision.

The UN World Health Organisation has said male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexual HIV infection.

But correspondents say it is rare in Rwanda where the majority Christian population do not practise it.

Rwanda has successfully managed to lower the spread of Aids in recent years thanks to its HIV campaign.

RWANDA IN FIGURES

Population: 8.6m
2002: One of countries worst hit by HIV
2000: 11% of adults HIV-positive
2003-6: $30.5m grant to fight Aids:
12m condoms distributed
500,000 tests and counselling provided
5,000 patients received ARVs
School fees paid for 27,000 orphans or vulnerable children
Health insurance schemes subsidised for 52,000 homes
100,000 participated in income-generating activities
2007: 3% of adults HIV-positive
2008: Campaign for all men to be circumcised

Figures from the World Bank last year put the prevalence of Aids in the country at about 3%, down from 11% in 2000.

“We took this decision from a statistical point of view,” Innocent Nyaruhirira, secretary of state for Aids prevention, told the BBC’s Great Lakes Service.

“It is a fact that men who are circumcised are 60% more likely to be protected against HIV during sexual intercourse,” he said.

“We will start this campaign with the new born and young men in universities, the army and police.”

While it will be nominally voluntary, correspondents say many in the armed forces will regard it as an order.

Mr Nyaruhirira said health workers would be trained to make sure there were enough people available to perform the sensitive operation.

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