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HIV/AIDS and female genital mutilation in the Somali’s nomads of eastern Ethiopia: a discussion paper.

World Hosp Health Serv. 2006;42(3):27-31.

HIV/AIDS and female genital mutilation in the Somali’s nomads of eastern Ethiopia: a discussion paper.

Omar M, Mohamed K.

Institute of Health Sciences and Public Health Research, University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is widely practised among the Somali nomads in Eastern Ethiopia. It may be categorized as one of many harmful traditional practices such as uvula cutting, gum piercing, cauterization and blood letting, which are conducted by unskilled traditional healers in unhygienic conditions, and which potentially increase the risk of HIV transmission. Other factors also play a significant role in the perpetuation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region, such as lack of awareness, misconception about the routes of HIV transmission and ways of prevention, the practice of polygamy, and window inheritance. Pervasive poverty and recurrent famine also fuel the epidemic. Lack of official pastoralist-specific policy and strategy on HIV and FGM further complicates the problem. This paper discusses the possible relationship in terms of health risk between HIV/AIDS and FGM in the Horn of Africa and calls for more concerted efforts, including further research in order to address this potential risk.

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