Epicentre News • 22 April 2020
o what is VMMC? VMMC or Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision, is the complete removal of the foreskin of the penis by surgical means. It became a popular HIV infection prevention method in the early 2000s and has remained so as it is the only one-off intervention that reduces the risk of HIV infection whilst being highly cost-effective.
VMMC is supported and funded in programs by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS. These global health giants have recommended VMMC as a key part in HIV prevention in countries with a high HIV prevalence and unfortunately low levels of male circumcision like South Africa.
VMMC is such a key part of HIV prevention as it cuts female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by 60%. This protection does not wear off so it will last a lifetime. Moreover, this rock hard protection is a popular proudly South African solution as circumcision has long been a part of our culture historically. VMMC is also business friendly as it results in almost no time off as it is conducted outside of working hours and most men can return to work the very next day.
VMMC A Solution
It is therefore clear why VMMC is a popular part of Epicentre’s Working Wellness program as well as part of our public health programs in schools and communities across the country. We have been providing full and free Voluntary Medical Male Circumcisions successfully to schools and communities in both the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal.
But we believe that VMMC has a unique asset to offer businesses. At Epicentre we have evidence to suggest that not only will VMMC significantly reduce HIV infections amongst employees, but it will also reduce future absenteeism for companies by 75%.
HIV not only cost taxpayers money for medications it costs us time. When an employee contracts HIV their absenteeism skyrockets – moving from 3 days off work to 12 days on average. These 12 days are for clinic visits for medications, and an increase in days sick as employees immune system is attacked by the virus.
This could all be exacerbated by the new COVID-19 pandemic that seriously endangers the HIV positive in our country. We don’t know exactly how the Coronavirus will impact the HIV positive in our country but we do know that it has the potential to keep them sick for longer, affect them more seriously and seriously impair our workforce as 1 in 4 people in our country are HIV positive.
There are therefore good economic and humanitarian incentives for companies to integrate health programs like VMMC in their businesses. VMMC offers a long term once-off solution to a widespread problem that needs to be dealt with especially in light of the COVID crisis that threatens to cripple our economy. Epicentre is calling on businesses to step up and take care of our workers with this cost effective solution.