The CDC is talking about making routine circumcision a recommended procedure for all newborn males in this country to prevent the spread of HIV, based on some studies done in Africa that seemed to conclude that circumcision may reduce the chances of contracting HIV in heterosexual males through sex.
The studies were done in Africa, where most men are un circumcised. Volunteers came in to participate in the studies, and men were given the choice whether or not they wanted to be circed, rather than randomly assigning, which makes the studies biased right there.
The studies were also flawed in that the study groups were too small to get an accurate conclusion and there were no controls, basically setting the study up to support the hypothesis. That is not science.
How does circumcision prevent the spread of HIV? That is a question that these studies have failed to answer because they have not been conducted scientifically. For all we know, the spread of HIV in these studies could have easily been less in circumcised men because the circumcised men were more hesitant to show their unusual looking penis, and therefore had less promiscuous sex. In fact, a look at these studies makes that seem very likely indeed. Until I can be given an explination as to how circumcision prevents the spread of HIV, I can’t believe these studies. They just don’t make sense.
Furthermore, even the CDC is quite clear on the fact that circumcision would have very little effect on AIDS rates here IF (and its a big if) the conclusions of these African studies are correct. Most AIDS transmissions in this country take place between gay males and drug users, these studies say nothing about circumcision protecting from transmission in these cases.
Even if we can conclude that these studies are correct, the alleged effectiveness rate of circumcision in preventing HIV is still WAY below the effectiveness of condoms, and leagues below limiting sexual parters. I see very little justification for making a recommendation for a surgical procedure that carries a long list of risks when there are more effective, cheaper, and less dangerous preventative measures out there.
We need more scientificly based studies to confirm this alleged link between circumcision and reduced HIV rates. Remember, only 15% (most of whom are Muslims) of the world’s male population is circumcised, so clearly there are large pockets of uncircumcised populations (say, Europe) where AIDS is not as big of a problem as it is here, where some 75% of men are circumcised. Those are some large numbers that suggest these studies may not be accurate enough to start suggesting routine circumcision.
I think its seriously flawed to start telling people that being circumcised is going to protect them from HIV. It has about the same effectiveness rate as the pull out method does in preventing the spread of HIV. I’d hate to see the country take this as an excuse to no longer use condoms. Circumcised men contract and pass on HIV every day!