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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Circumcision and the bigger picture

This is a guest blog by Joseph Lewis.

Originally Joseph posted this as a comment on my article 5 reasons parents give for choosing circumcision, and why those reasons are not valid.
Joseph's comment was so good that I felt it needed space of it's own so it would not be lost in amongst other comments on the original article.

I think we need to ask bigger questions, like why are doctors performing unnecessary surgery on healthy children?

Without a medical condition that promptly commands it, can doctors even be performing circumcisions, let alone be giving parents any kind of "choice" on the matter?

Continuing on the thread of the preventing UTIs, if there are safer, less invasive ways of preventing and treating UTI, shouldn't doctors be taking that route instead of recommending radical, invasive, permanently altering surgery?

As it stands, UTIs are more common in girls than in boys by a factor of 4, and are easily as treatable with antibiotics in boys, as they are in girls.

It makes absolutely no sense to be performing radically altering surgery on an infant to prevent an already rare and perfectly curable condition.

It makes no sense to be conducting any more circumcision "studies." Usually, medical science tries to move away from surgery, if not completely displace it. Doctors seek to save limbs and organs, not extract or amputate them. Usually, instead of seeking to amputate an infected limb, doctors seek the root of the cause and try to alleviate the problem with treatment; amputation is performed as a very last resort.

Circumcision "studies" are unique in that the people conducting them focus on preserving a surgical procedure by seeking conditions for it to treat or prevent.

It must be stated that the latest "studies" from Africa beg questioning. Like the UTI studies, there are plenty of studies that contradict the results. For a partial list of these studies, please visit the following link:

And, like most other circumcision "studies," the conductors have conflicts of interest. Robert Bailey, for example, has been a champion for male infant circumcision since 1995.

Daniel Halperin is Jewish and is on record saying he wants to make his grandfather proud (his grandfather was a mohel). The conductors of the latest "studies" have a great conflict of interest, because they have had prior interest in legitimizing circumcision, particularly the circumcision of infants, where conductors come from cultures where infant circumcision is important, and are more than likely circumcised themselves. They shouldn't be trusted for an unbiased, objective opinion.

Giving the conductors of the "studies" the benefit of the doubt, however, even IF their results were correct, circumcision would not, could not prevent HIV. At best it would "reduce the risk of HIV by 60%." But this is such a horrible turn out! SO horrible, in fact, that the conductors of the studies themselves cannot overstate enough that circumcised men still have to wear condoms. What is the point then?

"Reduces the risk of HIV transmission by 60%." In other words, circumcision FAILS 40% of the time. If the WHO or CDC tried promoting a condom that failed 40% of the time, they'd be laughed out of the room!

The "studies" are but a ploy to shore up the falling infant circumcision rate in the US. THAT'S what this is all about. If you follow the news, American "scientists" couldn't wait for the circumcision/HIV "studies" to be published. They were already using them to promote the circumcision of babies in the US.

The circumcision of babies! Who are least at risk for the transmission of any STD! Because they don't have sex! And when they grew up, they could learn to use a condom! How silly is that!

The CDC and AAP can't yet figure out a way to promote circumcision in children for the prevention of HIV. They're thinkin' though...

What's real sad is that the elephant in the room is being ignored; the ethic of circumcising healthy children who are at zero risk for HIV transmission. The men in the African trials all opted to get circumcised and had a full CHOICE. WHY is this being denied in children?

To close, the biggest problem the latest HIV "studies" have is that they fail to correlate with reality.

For one, circumcision never worked in the US. In 1980, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic hit the US, over 90% of US men were already circumcised from birth. The rate of infant circumcision has fallen, but overall, 80% of the US male population remains circumcised, and we have THE HIGHEST rate of HIV transmission in the industrialized world.

The majority of men in Israel are all circumcised, and yet even Israel is facing a rising HIV/AIDS crisis.

(Oh, and incidentally, Haaretz reports of a study that shows that circumcision actually UPS UTIs in Israel.

This June, Malaysian AIDS Council vice-president Datuk Zaman Khan announced that more than 70% of the 87,710 HIV/AIDS sufferers in the country are Muslims. 60% of the Malaysian population is Muslim, and Islamic families circumcise all their male children, the rest of the population does not, which means that HIV is spreading at a higher rate among the population with the circumcised men.
(Sorry, subscription only.)

Let's have circumcision "researchers" "study" their way out of this one.

Observe in Africa: Circumcised men are seeking HIV treatment, because they had sex with the belief that circumcision was supposed to protect them.

But all is not lost; at least ONE learned man in Africa sees the absurdity of promoting circumcision as AIDS prevention.

Bottom line; even if the "studies" were correct, circumcision does not protect against HIV, men still have to wear condoms, and absolutely no doctor, researcher or "study" can refute this. It is questionable how a "prevention method" that has failed to deliver in America, Israel and Malaysia will suddenly start working wonders in Africa.

And circumcision as HIV "prevention" is irrelevant in newborn children who aren't even having sex yet. Lo, it needlessly puts them at risk of MRSA infection, ablation and even death. Anyone who recommends the circumcision of infants for "HIV transmission reduction" cannot possibly have their head on straight.