Sunday, September 6, 2009

Universal Circumcision?

Well, the Center of Disease Control continues to outdo themselves. The CDC is now considering a campaign to push for universal circumcision in the United States.

The reason for this stems comes from a series of recent studies, mostly conducted in Africa, which demonstrate that circumcision can help reduce the transmission of HIV. The studies in-and-of themselves are rather interesting. They're not completely bogus studies - they are large, controlled studies, and the methodology seems sound. The studies show that there is a 40%-60% reduction in the risk of a circumcised HIV negative man contracting the disease from an HIV positive woman when compared to an uncircumcised man. As for the reason behind this, Rabin from the New York Times explains:

Circumcision is believed to protect men from infection with HIV because the mucosal tissue of the foreskin is more susceptible to IV and can be an entry portal for the virus. Observational studies have found that uncircumcised men have higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases like herpes and syphilis, and a recent study in Baltimore found that heterosexual men were less likely to have become infected with HIV from infected partners if they were circumcised.

However, there is one pretty obvious problem with these studies: these trials were all done on heterosexual men. While the transmission of HIV as they measured it in the studies is a common scenario in Africa, the same does not apply in the United States. The rates of HIV infection are much lower in the US than they are in Africa. HIV in the US is more common among homosexual men, and there is little to no evidence that circumcision protects men from contracting the disease from other men. Circumcision also obviously does nothing to protect anyone against getting infected from a shared needle, which is another common way HIV is transmitted in the US.

Plus, it should go without saying that there are other ways to prevent the transmission of HIV besides circumcision - like practicing safe sex and avoiding shooting dirty needles into your arm.

Well, I clearly have no personal experience with circumcision (unless my parents are withholding some extremely important/disturbing information from me), and I never really thought about it until watching the Penn & Teller episode about the subject a few years ago. Circumcision is itself a pretty controversial issue - the procedure has its risks and benefits, although the risks seem to outweigh the benefits. There is evidence that circumcision can affect the enjoyment of sex, and even more evidence that the procedure is just unnecessary. Teaching your son good hygiene is just as effective as circumcision for avoiding possible problems.

But all that is besides the main point. If a grown man decides to go get circumcised, that's his prerogative. The larger problem with circumcision is that, more often than not, it's the parents who decide that they want to circumcise their kid, giving him no choice in the matter. And this proposition of universal circumcision is the same thing, except on a larger scale. The CDC would like every little boy born in the US to be circumcised, regardless of the parents' opinions and even worse, with the boy incapable of giving consent. Now it's not just your parents deciding what you do with your body - it's Mommy Government. And Mommy Government knows best, of course.





  2. Good grief...what next? Women's breasts because they MIGHT get breast cancer?

  3. In Europe, almost no-one circumcises unless they're Muslim or Jewish, and they have significantly lower rates of almost all STI's including HIV.

    Even in Africa, there are six countries where men are more likely to be HIV+ if they've been circumcised: Rwanda, Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, and Swaziland. Eg in Malawi, the HIV rate is 13.2% among circumcised men, but only 9.5% among intact men. In Cameroon, the HIV rate is 4.1% among circumcised men, but only 1.1% among intact men. If circumcision really worked against AIDS, this just wouldn't happen. We now have people calling circumcision a "vaccine" or "invisible condom", and viewing circumcision as an alternative to condoms.

    ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery will cost lives, not save them.

  4. The primitive traditions of supposedly civilized humans are breathtaking. That goes for infant ear-piercing too. But at least circumcisionists believe there is some health benefit, and the mutilation usually hidden.

  5. Routine Circumcision a dangerous message sent to many people in South Africa. What worries me the most is an article in a Johannesburg News Paper, about a boy of 18 who went for a circumcision. “I’ve heard we must come and circumcise so that we cannot get sick,” he said. “My parents think it’s a good thing.” Maiko is one of about 100 men aged 15 and up who come to the center every day and briefly occupy one of seven curtained-off beds in a one-room surgery”(see article The whole aspect about circumcision is scary. If the message is understood that HIV cannot be contracted if you are circumcised the HIV rate in South Africa will increase considerably in the next few years. I disagree with Circumcision. By the time a newborn baby is grown up there will be a cure for aids. Why get him circumcised? Babies don’t have sex. Let the baby decide for him self when he is grown if he wants to be circumcised or not. Why must a parent make such decisions for their child? It is every body’s right to make such a decision for him.
    The USA is setting the example to the rest of the world. If the US is setting the wrong example the whole world will suffer!

  6. Follow the Money: infant foreskins are the primo source of Embryonic stem cells for research. There is a "need" for such material, hence: panic, fear, "solution". All the noise about HIV prevention is BS. Period.

  7. I'm all for universal circumcision

  8. So which parts of *your* genitals have you had cut off?


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