The king of South Africa's Zulus wants to revive the practice of circumcision among his people to help fight the spread of AIDS, the Sapa news agency reported Sunday.

A number of studies have shown that circumcising men can halve their chances of contracting the HIV virus and the WHO has recommended including circumcision among anti-AIDS strategies since 2007.

"In the context of the fight against HIV and AIDS I should announce my intention to revive the practice of circumcision amongst young men," King Goodwill Zwelithini said on Saturday during a traditional festival.

Zulus practised ritual circumcision until the start of the 19th century, when the legendary king Shaka put a stop to it because it deprived him of young warriors for months at a time.

The authorities in South Africa's north-east KwaZulu-Natal province are now in talks with Zwelithini about the practicalities of reintroducing circumcision.

"Circumcision will assist in the fight against the pandemic, although on its own does not prevent the spread of sexual transmitted diseases," the head of KwaZulu-Natal's regional government, Zweli Mkhize, said.