Members of Zimbabwe’s parliament have been voluntarily circumcised as part of a national push to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. A total of forty-four MP’s (all male, of course) from both opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change Party and the ruling party of Robert Mugabe underwent the procedure last Friday in a makeshift clinic set up across the street from the parliament building.
More than one million people in Zimbabwe are believed to be HIV-positive (a figure representing one in ten inhabitants), and the country was identified by the U.N. in 2007 as one of thirteen African states where male circumcision programs should be made a priority in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Zimbabwe’s rate of infection was the highest in Africa during the 1990’s, but has since halved to just over 13%–well below a country like Swaziland’s 26%, well below the United States’ 0.6%. The World Health Organization issued a report this year claiming that circumcision among males reduces the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS by 60%.