Olympic 2012 Silver Medalist, Nijel Amos, Joins PSI to Promote Safe Male Circumcision in Botswana

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Campaign Educates Students About the Health Benefits of Male Circumcision and Its Role in Reducing the Spread of HIV

Olympic 800 meter silver medalist, Nijel Amos, joined Population Services International Botswana/(PSI) to promote a campaign that informed students about the health benefits of safe male circumcision, and encouraged them to circumcise during this year’s school holiday.

“We are excited that Nijel agreed to support the national safe male circumcision initiative, which we hope will encourage male students between 13 and 19 years of age to seek safe male circumcision services,” says Beauty Mogasha, PSI’s HIV Programs Manager. “The goal of the safe male circumcision initiative is to reduce the spread of HIV in Botswana by reaching its national goal of circumcising 80 percent of males by 2016.”

Nijel, 18, grew up as an orphan to a poor family in Marobele, and became a symbol of pride for Botswana after his medal-winning performance at this summer’s London Olympic Games. He joined PSI on a speaking and education tour that took him to nearly a dozen schools across Botswana. He spoke with hundreds of students about the health benefits of male circumcision, which has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from females to males by up to 60 percent. The procedure also improves hygiene and reduces the risk of cervical and penile cancer.

“Having been circumcised myself, and as a patriotic citizen of this country, I feel it’s upon us as the nation of Botswana to contribute in any way possible in the fight against HIV,” said Nijel. “I saw it fit to talk to my peers in schools to encourage and motivate them to embrace this opportunity to invest in their sexual health, because as young people we need to protect ourselves as we are the future of this country, so our leadership and responsibility starts today by getting circumcised.

Throughout the campaign, which runs from 19 November to 14 December, school presentations and community events will provide students, parents and teachers with accurate and detailed information about the health benefits of safe male circumcision, as well as information about what to expect before, during and after the procedure.

PSI Botswana’s Executive Director Richard Harrison commended Nijel Amos for lending his support and leading by example in the fight against HIV and AIDS through this initiative. He is optimistic that through Nijel Amos’ voice, young men will seize this opportunity to get circumcised this holiday season.

“High-achievers and role models like Nijel help us communicate at the same level as young people, using words and ideas that they can relate to in a powerful way. Thanks to his tremendous achievements, Botswana youth look up to Nijel, and his words of support and encouragement will resonate loudly,” said Mr. Harrison.

Botswana currently has 16 dedicated safe male circumcision clinics around the country that men of all ages can easily access if they choose to have the procedure done. The services may also be accessed from all other public health facilities.

For more information about safe male circumcision or bookings, clients can call 0800 600 700 or 0800 617 80.

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PSI is a global health organization dedicated to improving the health of people in the developing world by focusing on serious challenges like a lack of family planning, HIV/AIDS, barriers to maternal health, and the greatest threats to children under five, including malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, and malnutrition. http://www.psi.org

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Mpho Motlhabane
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