The king of South Africa’s Zulu tribe, in a desire to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS among his people, has decided to implement “Operation Abraham,” the Jerusalem AIDS and Hadassah Medical Center collaborative male circumcision program.

United Nations statistics reveal that the circumcision procedure can reduce the rate of HIV virus transmission by up to 60 percent. Operation Abraham was implemented successfully in Swaziland three years ago. Hadassah’s physicians went to Swaziland to perform circumcisions and train local physicians to do the surgery.

Dr. Inon Schenker, head of Operation Abraham and founder of the Jerusalem AIDS Project, relates that his belief in circumcision as a solution to the AIDS epidemic in Africa was crystallized during the wave of Russian immigration to Israel in the 1990s.  Circumcision was performed on tens of thousands of Russian Jewish men as the Jewish ritual bringing them into the Biblical covenant between God and the Jewish people.

“Israel is the only country with such experience in mass adult male circumcision, and it can respond to a very important humanitarian challenge,” Dr. Schenker says.

This past summer, an Israeli delegation, under the medical management of Hadassah Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Eitan Gross, traveled to Kwazulu Natal Province to jumpstart the program there. Israel has received requests for training from Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, and Lesotho.