Local celebrities, who support voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), have joined hands with Community Media Trust (CMT) – a not-for-profit company that specialises in communication in the fields of health, human rights and gender based violence – in an effort to boost VMMC take-up among SA men during National Men’s Health Month this June.
Co-Director of CMT, Lucilla Blankenberg, says most of the celebrities involved in the campaign support male circumcision as a way to offer additional protection against HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other life-threatening health conditions that face men, such as penile and prostate cancer.
“Men are not immune to these diseases. About 7 million people are living with HIV in our country, and prostate cancer is the most common cancer among South African men. Medical male circumcision has been proven to offer men many protective benefits and there really shouldn’t be any hesitation to undergo the procedure,” said Blankenberg.
The national marketing drive will take on the form of a series of video and radio public service announcements (PSAs), posters and radio interviews that feature the 11 celebs and their messages to other men.
The celebrities have all come on board as ambassadors for CMT’s “Man Up” campaign, because they believe in its message and the aim of reducing HIV in South Africa.
The celebrity ambassadors include multi-talented musician and composer, Khaya Mthethwa; popular singer-songwriter, Chad Saaiman; actor and comedian, Christian Bennet; actor Lemogang Tsipa, who recently made his big screen debut in the locally produced film, Beyond the River; Scandal actor, Brighton Ngoma; actor and presenter, Katleho Sinivasan; actor and musician, Wandile Molebatsi; actor and director, Obed Baloyi; 7de Laan star, Sekoati Tsubane; Matli Mohapeloa, best-known for his role as DJ Ngwazi on Rhythm City; and Luthuli Dlamini, most well-known for his role as Stan Nyathi on Scandal.
Khaya Mthethwa says what prompted him to take action by putting his name behind the campaign was his love for his fellow man.
“Life is not just about taking care of ourselves. It’s about looking out for our families and others as well. HIV is a major health concern in SA and I simply cannot idly stand by and do nothing. A proactive approach by all is what is going to put an end to the disease,” said Mthethwa.
Luthuli Dlamini agrees, saying: “It’s a great cause and it promotes health and safety for all. Circumcision reduces the chances of HIV and reduces the risk of women getting cervical cancer.”
Blankenberg says the campaign is intended to reach millions of people in areas throughout the country that are deemed most at risk of HIV.
“Medical male circumcision has been shown to reduce a man’s lifetime risk of contracting HIV by 60% and is therefore considered an important prevention measure in the fight against the disease, which claimed the lives of over 150,000 South Africans in 2016,” said Blankenberg.
Wandile Molebatsi feels that VMMC is more than just a medical procedure. “We should talk more openly about the wide-ranging benefits of circumcision and debunk the myths that still exist around it. “Man Up” is a call to action for men to take responsibility!”
Blankenberg says ultimately she hopes that the overall campaign message will serve as a source of inspiration for other men in South Africa to get circumcised.
“Men need to stand up and confront the health challenges we face as a country by playing their part. Millions of lives can be saved if men take action,” concluded Blankenberg.
A free circumcision can be booked by SMSing your full name to 35255 and a trained VMMC counsellor will call you back.