Circumcision and Aids

The article was okay but the comments were mostly stellar!

The fundamental problem with the African clinical trials is that they were cut short after 12-18 months. Hence risk compensation (look it up in Wikipedia) cannot be ruled out. Specifically, we cannot rule out that circumcision only delays the inevitable. Also, the circumcised treatment group were given free condoms and anti-AIDS instruction. The intact controls got nothing. Experimental bias anyone? Would this protocol pass muster with a First World ethics committee??

African population data are not consistent with circumcision mattering for HIV positivity, and this fact has yet to be explained. Circumcision is at best an odds changer. Fixating on odds changers when game changers exist, namely condoms and fidelity, is highly misleading. As a Kenyan man said to a journalist “if I still have to wear a condom, what’s the point with this circumcision business?”

Neither randomised clinical trials nor publication in a peer reviewed journal are guarantees of truth. For more on how the African clinical trials were poorly designed and badly executed, see:

The focus in Africa should be unlimited free condoms in every village. Note that Dr Plank wrote “…circumcised men should still use condoms consistently.” If First World governments can purchase condoms in bulk for 3 cents apiece, I maintain that this objective is feasible.

A number of American investigators involved in the African clinical trials have argued that the African clinical trials are evidence in favour of circumcising Americans at birth; this is blatantly unscientific. During the 1980s and 90s, about a quarter million gay men died of AIDS in those countries. A large majority of those men were circumcised. Circumcision is also completely irrelevant to AIDS resulting from unsterile medical practices and contaminated blood.

A committee of European and Australasian epidemiologists should review this controversy.

The rest of this comment addresses two assertions by Dr Plank to which I take firm exception. A vaccine that can be administered only once, that would be only partly effective at the outset, whose partial efficacity would fade over 5-10 years, and that would sometimes have a permanent adverse effect on sexual pleasure and functionality for one or both genders, would NOT be celebrated.

“The WHO and UNAIDS recently published modeling data that 1 HIV infection would be averted for every 5-15 men newly circumcised.”

The outcome of a modelling exercise is NOT data, nor is the “estimated number required to treat.” These are only numerical estimates, ones requiring a host of assumptions about the underlying data and model. If the African clinical trials are flawed, the “estimated number required to treat” derived from those trials is equally flawed.

Rebeca Plank has received almost half a million dollars to go to Botswana and promote circumcision.… How many condoms is that? She’s lying through her teeth that in bulk it would be one dollar a conom, but nevertheless even at that rate it would be half a million condoms. By the way, I pray that African cultures don’t learn about the langerhans cells hypothesis. Do you know why? They’re all over the labias and clitoris of women! We’re playing with fire and noone even knows.

H Navoiseau
“Circumcision against AIDS, between illusion, sexism and apartheid”http://circabolition.multiply….

If it were a vaccine that came in a sterile glass vial, it wouldn’t be genital mutilation.

According to an article in ‘The Columbus Dispatch’ today, circumcision remains enormously popular in the Midwest, particularly in Ohio, which has an 84% circumcision rate.

I saw the article and since I live in Columbus myself, I will try to shed some light on why I believe the rate is so high: ignorance and herd mentality. As the article itself stated, most parents here still circumcise to match Daddy and/or other boys in the locker room. Many parents I have talked to are not even aware that it is an option NOT to circumcise, and the biggest L&D hospital in the area has a policy of trying to coerce parents into it here. I was asked with my oldest son at least 6 times even though I had it in my chart that we would not be circumcising, and I was even erroneously billed for the circumcision. When my second son was born, the resident implied that we could not be discharged from the hospital until he was circumcised. I tried to advise a close friend not to circumcise, and she agreed that there is no reason to do it, but her husband insisted that they “match”. I am embarrassed to live in a region that is still so culturally invested in mutilating their babies, but that is still the reality here. My husband is a physician, and we have found that most of his colleagues did not circumcise their sons, so we are hopeful that the trend will change.

Zombie Woof
Deidrdra it looks like you have hit journalistic pay dirt. You have Dr. Plank saying that condoms cost nearly $1.00 each. There is only two reasons that Dr. Plank would be say something so fabulously false (in bulk for public health clinics condoms cost about 3¢) and both of them should you prompt you to dig further. Either she knows that she is lying or she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. If she is being actively deceptive, you should work to find out why she is lying. If she is ignorant, you should work to find out how someone in in her position doesn’t know how much condoms cost. The extrapolation of this is if Dr. Plank doesn’t know how much a condom costs, can we believe anything the experts tell us.

I hope you planning some follow-up on this, because asking people who are being to promote circumcision about circumcision would be like asking Rumsfeld in 2002 if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

“If the decision was left only to men, fewer babies would be circumcised,” she says. “I think it’s better if I decide.” (Rebeca Plank, circumcising MD and public policy specialist)

“Plank is studying the feasibility of a large-scale infant circumcision program in Botswana. She believes that infant circumcision is the next sensible step in the fight against AIDS in this part of the world.”

“The moms, in the end, just have the baby circumcised and inform their partner later,” says Rebeca Plank.

Can you use proper sentence structure and english please?

Hugh x
I wonder if you mean, “Would you please use proper English sentence-structure?”

Kacii Humanrightsactivist Hame
Circumcision is a HUMAN RIGHTS issue. It’s NOT your body, it’s NOT your choice! For those who are pro-choice – how can you say her body her choice but not say the same for boys? For those who are pro-life why is it the child has the right to live but not the right to its own body! Would you circumcise your daughters? All it can be is just removal of the clitoral hood! Except woman have LESS nerve endings than boys! The foreskin is there to PROTECT the penis. Not harm it. When intact, don’t retract, only clean what is seen! The foreskin will naturally retract eventually and all you do is rinse with water! Check out The Whole Network on facebook! Please get informed! God and Nature do NOT make mistakes!

The large majority of comments on this page seem to be from anti-circumcision activists. There is nothing wrong with posting those, but it would be nice to get some more balance here that would be more reflective of the split in opinion on this issue. It would be nice to see some more posts from those who support male circumcision.

would you like a balanced discussion of female circumcision? Or rape? or prostitution? There are “pros and cons” to all of those, but I think most rational thinking persons would agree that holding another person down against their will and cutting on their genitals is wrong. And it already is illegal in the U.S., but the “laws” are interpreted such that male circumcision of minors is allowed to persist. But it technically is assault and battery, child sexual abuse, rape.

What you’re asking for is a balanced view of child abuse.

Hugh x
Would it be more “balanced” if the stories on female cutting had more messages from the women who are cut, who don’t mind it, and who plan to do it to their daughters? I guess in the 1860s, the pro-and anti-slavery discussions were well-balanced, too, and in the 1960s, pro-and anti-segregation. (And no, I’m not saying they are all equally bad.)

Joseph Lewis
Cheryl, you’ll find that most articles that drizzle down in this country are pro-circumcision, and our voice is usually drowned out by “I’m the parent, I decide” rhetoric. That or “it’s my religion.” (This doesn’t work with with female circumcision, pointing to cultural bias.)

Some go on and on about so-called “benefits,” but I think what helps in this case is that that is precisely what is being questioned in this article.

Maybe people can’t respond to our points and questions regarding the so-called “research” so they don’t comment?

I actually find it refreshing to see that there are more of us nowadays than there were before.

Cheryl, circumcision used to be routine in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the US. Of these countries, it has been abandoned in all but the US. It is being rapidly abandoned in the US. Nevada’s circumcision rate is under 20%. The entire West circumcises at about 32%. Are all these countries and people wrong? You have no idea what happens in an infant circumcision. I’ve both witnessed one, and had it done to my son. The doctor shoves a blunt probe, between the foreskin and the head, which are attached by a protective membrane. He or she then jams it around, to tear the membrane from the head. Seeing as the penis is the most sensitive part of a male, this has got to be agony. It makes pulling off a fingernail look like a swim on vacation.Swedish doctors say:”We consider it to be an assault on these boys,” Staffan Janson, chairman of BLF’s committee for ethical issues and childrens’ rights, said to newspaper Göteborgs-Posten (GP).… The Danes and Dutch are equally sympathetic.Please take your misplaced anger, and think about why a child should have surgery they don’t need, to remove a healthy body part, just to make angry people like yourself happy.Americans get swindled out of billions of dollars a year, lied to by their medical societies, and make fake studies as propaganda. Please read the gibberish above, and tell me who is lying. The Swedes, the Danes, the Dutch, the Canadians, the New Zealanders, the Australians, the British? Or the Americans?

Barefoot Intactivist
People who are educated enough to comment on circumcision articles tend overwhelmingly to be against the procedure. In fact, while the circumcision rate in the US may be around 50%, it is mostly because of inertia — parents who have no idea what the procedure really involves just saying “Yes” at the prodding of circumcising doctors.

Would you call for a “balanced view” on female circumcision, which was not outlawed in the USA until 1996?

Cheryl,I am a physician who performed circumcisions in residency and a few years after residency training. I tried repeatedly to talk parents out of it and present the facts to them. No way did they want to hear the truth or facts or science-they had their minds made up and were offended that I had an opposing viewpoint. Parents and physicians in this country are mostly quite ignorant of the issues, history and science surrounding infant circumcision. I stopped doing them shortly after residency because it was making me ill and my conscience was so bothered by this obvious torture being inflicted on an innocent child. When it comes to circumcision, I repeatedly see all rational thinking go out the window. There is something visceral about it. Some get that it is wrong and others will go to their death defending it. It must be stopped because it affects all aspects of our society when we torture children and fail to uphold their basic human rights. It affects female sexuality as well.



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