New York Times Claims of Benefits of Circumcision?

Two days ago the New York Times claimed that circumcision reduced the risk of HIV transmission. A closer look into the argument sheds some doubt on the article.

Here is a debate between the two sides, a pediatrician and an informed member of the group Intact America. The African study referenced in the clip can be found here. Upon closer reading it appears as though the males who were circumcised during the study were a. instructed to abstain from sex for 6 weeks following the surgery and b. taught condom use. Hell yes, those men will have a lower occurrence of HIV. Not to mention the fact that the man who headed this study, one Robert Bailey (do some googling, friends) has stated that his goal would be ‘universal circumcision’.

One thought that is not addressed in the debate are the extremely high rates of both circumcision and HIV in the US of the 1980’s. Or the fact that US’s HIV rates are comparable, if not higher than Japan and most European nations (map), yet the circumcision rates paint a different picture.

Why is it, in the United States that we talk of “female genital mutilation’ with such disgust and horror, yet doing this to our boys is perfectly acceptable. Why is it even a question? Would you remove the most sensitive area of your daughter’s genitals? No. They why is it ok to do so to your son. Perhaps we would feel differently if there were studies that may show that female circumcision reduces the risk of HIV. Oh wait.

Smoking is a risky behavior which may lead to tongue cancer. Why hasn’t the AAP recommended that every infant have a portion of his or her tongue removed to reduce the risk? Well, an infant is not going to be smoking in the immediate future, removing a portion of the tongue would impact anyone’s life negatively, and it just makes FAR more sense to discourage smoking in the first place. An infant isn’t going to be having sex in the near future either, as for how it effects quality of life, I can think of a few ways, and teaching condom use is certainly more affective. Bottom line, cut off risk behaviors, not body parts.

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