South African President Jacob Zuma revealed that he is now circumcised, a disclosure that scientists and health officials hope may encourage other men to undergo the procedure, The New York Times reports. Studies suggest that circumcision may lower heterosexual men's HIV risk by more than half.

“It has been my style that I don't hide things,” said Zuma, a member of the Zulu tribe, who explained he had been circumcised “some time ago” but felt going public now would influence other men to follow his lead.

“I thought it was important because that could help quite a few other people who, if I did not do it, they would be hesitant and not knowing what to do,” Zuma said.

Zuma, who has three wives and a fiancée, also went public about having unsafe sex in an extramarital affair, which resulted in a child. According to the Times, Zuma said during a radio interview that a polygamous relationship in which HIV is openly discussed is safer than an alleged monogamous one in which the man has secret mistresses.

South Africa abandoned circumcision in the 19th century, but recently the country began promoting the practice and making it available to the public as a way to reduce new HIV cases.

The country hopes to circumcise millions of men in the upcoming years starting with the Zulu heartland, which has the highest HIV infection rates. There are 5.7 million people living with HIV in South Africa.