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Kenyan Council of Elders Cuts Off Support of Circumcision


Despite its ability to help prevent the spread of HIV, the Luo Council of Elders in Kenya is not down with male circumcision because the practice conflicts with the community's culture.

But more than culture informs the influential council's decision to reject a widespread initiative which would offer free circumcision. Some elders do not believe it actually prevents HIV infection, while others worry that circumcised men would stop wearing condoms. Thus, the elders oppose the effort by the Kenyan government to make circumcision more culturally accepted.

Resistance to circumcision is not the only cultural practice inhibiting HIV prevention in Kenya, where 2.5 million people (out of 35 million) live with HIV or AIDS — the practice of wife inheritance doesn't help either. When a husband dies, the widow often marries her brother-in-law or another man chosen by the elders. As you might imagine, this too facilitates the passing of the deadly disease.

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