Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Penis Envy and AIDS

Just a thought on the new front the Ministry of Health plans to open in the war against AIDS. The Standard reports that the Ministry is seeking ways of promoting male circumcision after a study involving 2784 HI-negative men in Kisumu demonstrated a 53% risk reduction in circumcised males as compared to the uncircumcised.

I wonder how this will go down in Luo Nyanza where traditional customs such as wife inheritance and more modern practices like the Jaboyo system, have conspired to provide the HIV virus ample opportunity to wreak havoc. The Luos do not traditionally practice circumcision and there have been cases in the past where unruly mobs from other communities have forced the cut on Luo men in their midst.

In the light of this, is it not predictable that any attempt by the government to encourage circumcision (whatever the merits) would likely be viewed as yet another attempt by a Kikuyu-led government to impose Kikuyu ways on the Luo? Especially now that we have a Luo-Kikuyu fight in the offing following the break-up of NARC?

The confrontation between these two ethnic groups has been a consistent thread running through the history of independent Kenya. From the Kenyatta-Odinga standoff in 1969 which led to the Kisumu riots and Kenyatta's vow never to return to Nyanza, to the break-up of the original FORD occasioned by the return of Matiba and his decision to go it alone in 1992, to the current ODM-NARC-K confrontation, the off-again, on-again alliance between these two tribes has set the tone of country's political discourse.

It is my fear that the MoH's proposals will be seen through the prism of this history.


AK said...

Let's hope it doesn't become political!

I have suspected, for quite sometime that male circumcision lowers incidences of HIV infection.

I posted on this sometime ago based on my knowledge of HIV prevalence vs non-circumcision among the Shona communities of Zim, Luos of Kenya and Zulus of SA. I am glad there's finally research to back this.

If I were an uncircumcised African male, I would definitely opt for the cut and lower the risk for life is so good! This is not political.

odegle said...

The only sure and known protection against HI Virus is a condom. i find those researches quite misleading. i dont know how they decide to use human guniea pigs and get away with it. in fact proper scientific and demographic research should not take less than 5 years. yet these guys go to kisumu and after a few months they declare that the cut reduces HI virus infection. am happy you brought out the issue of luos and zulu. again the cultural set up of these two communities have never been looked at. for instance when i was in uni, most of the virgin first years were deflowered by the luos. the reason i thought was that the luos are romantic and quick at their moves. when other guys were still sending presents and taking chicks out and trying to impress them with their heavy pocket money , the mostly poor luos would hit the nail on the head and get the girls. until we base our researches on these issues we will keep on tolerating these poorly done studies like these ones. again it begs what controls were used and whether a proper and unbiased estimate of the population was used?

in busia more luhyas than tessos die of HIV yet the tesso do not cut. same case in uganda. tesso is second largest tribe yet they are not dying as much as the baganda yet the tesso do not cut. any explanation?