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Malaysia grabs the condom business, Indonesia open for circumcision

Publication Date : 10-08-2012


Let us beat Malaysia in the business of war, the war, that is, against HIV/AIDS.

The country has been leading us so far in producing female condoms, the condoms widely distributed during the recent international HIV/AIDS conference in Washington DC. Malaysia's booth even promoted the country's rubber production.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a golden chance to Indonesia's new Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi to lead us in grabbing a lucrative and easy business opportunity for local doctors and circumcisers.

This will be a golden chance for Mboi after she was scolded after she expressed the idea to intensify the use of condoms to battle rising HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease rates in the country.

The minister was accused of promoting the use of condoms among teenagers and underage people, although she insisted her target was adults who are at high risk for infection.

In her remarks to the participants of the AIDS conference in Washington, Clinton announced the determination of President Barack Obama's administration to support global male circumcision because it has been proven an effective tool to prevent HIV/AIDS in addition to the use of condoms.

"On male circumcision, we've supported more than 400,000 procedures since last December alone ... We want the world to know that this procedure reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission by more than 60 per cent and for the rest of the man's life, so the impact can be phenomenal," said Clinton in her speech.

Circumcision is a matter of daily life for Indonesians, because Islam — as well as Judaism — requires male Muslims to be circumcised. Millions of people in Africa have expressed their interest in being circumcised. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also recommended the method.

Several international donor institutions like the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have been active in financing circumcision campaigns because it has been able to significantly reduce the risks of being infected by the virus. The World Bank has also expressed strong interest.

Global Fund general manager Gabriel Jarmillo confirmed his office would provide more circumcision funding because he has no doubt about the effectiveness of the measure in addition to other preventative efforts like the use of condoms.

Circumcising adults, however, is not enough as some mistakenly believe that they no longer need to use a condom after undergoing the medical procedure. This has happened in Africa. Therefore, circumcision should be combined with other preventative and curative measures in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

During the Washington conference, several anti-circumcision groups like Intact America ( were actively campaigning against the practice. They had at least two booths outside the venue and a small group of demonstrators distributed pamphlets explaining the dangers of circumcision, including that it is a human rights violation.

"A multibillion dollar business opportunity is the main reason behind the circumcision campaign. There are at least two big companies here which actively promote their medical devices," said an activist.

"Mass circumcision campaigns are unethical," said Intact America in its official brochure.

Paul Hush from AccuCirc acknowledged his company is active in producing disposable single-action circumcision devices at US$20 each.

The Safe Male Circumcision organisation offers similar kits, the price about $35. According to the doctors working at the two booths, the cost of removing all or part of the skin that covers the penis is around $75.

It is indeed a lucrative business for Indonesian doctors and traditional circumcisers. They can offer much more affordable prices while the quality is highly assured.


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