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Carbon urologist battles AIDS in Africa

Dr. Walter M. Snihurowych recently returned from a two week mission to Swaziland in South Africa, where he joined forces in "a back to school push" to fight AIDS.

Swaziland is located in the southern tip of South Africa, and is known for having the highest rate of AIDS cases in the world.

Swaziland is populated by approximately one million people, with 25.9 percent of the population infected with AIDS.

At the current rate of growth, AIDS will account for an 80 percent decrease in population within just a of couple years.

A few years ago, an initiative issued by George Bush and the Bill Gates Foundation sent money to fight AIDS in Africa. A study showed that the foreskin of males can trap and transmit the AIDS virus easily.

Thus a three week break from school was instituted, with the goal of circumcising as many 13 to 18 year old males as possible.

The project hoped to be able to perform 5,000 circumcisions in this three week period.

If their goal were reached, it could help reduce AIDS cases by 80 percent in just a couple of years.

Three U.S. base groups got involved to help with the growing problem. These organizations were Jhpiego (John Hopkins in Baltimore, IVUMED SLC (International Volunteers in Urology), and AUA (American Urology Association).

The mission of the AUA was to provide the physicians who would volunteer their time for this three week project. Three physicians from Utah stepped up to the plate, one of them being Dr. Snihurowych, the other two from the Salt Lake area. Dr. Snihurowych worked 8 to 12 hour days Monday through Saturday completing 173 circumcisions himself.

The nursing staff was a motivated and dedicated group provided by the local PSI (Population Services International). Their job involved assistance during the procedure and follow up care. The procedure was performed under local anesthesia under modest conditions, with the males reportedly eager to participate. The patients were to return in 48 hours after the procedure and again one week later. Dr. Snihurowhch reported they saw very few infections. This three week push resulted in 7,200 procedures, exceeding their goal of 5,000 by an additional 2,200. The extended goal is to circumcise 160,000 men in less than two years.

Dr. Snihurowych also reported that one half of the women who show up for prenatal care also have AIDS. Ten percent of the population are orphans due to their parents having AIDS. Currently 61 percent of the deaths in Swaziland are due to AIDS.

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