Public health officials are considering promoting required circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States. Officials hope that taking this action will help slow down the spread of H.I.V. and AIDS. The proposal that circumcision will be required in the United States has already generated controversy. Read about it below.
There is scientific evidence that circumcision can lead to a reduction in the risk of males contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS has been at epidemic levels in Africa and studies show that African men who have been circumcised reduce their risk of getting AIDS by half. The clinical trials performed in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda focused on heterosexual males who were at risk from getting HIV from infected female sexual partners. The studies showed they were 60% less likely to become infected with AIDS if they had been circumcised. Circumcision did not seem to have an impact on the likelihood of homosexual men contracting the disease.
As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States is considering a proposal that all newborn baby boys in the United States should be circumcised. They are also considering offering the surgery to heterosexual adult males whose sexual behavior is such that they are at greater risk for the disease.
An official proposal hasn’t been made yet, but is expected to be made by the end of the year.
The problem with the studies being applied to males in the United States is that there is a huge discrepancy between available medical care in the United States and the countries studied in Africa. There is also a difference in the populations most at risk. While heterosexual males are at risk in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, homosexual males are more at risk in the United States. The study shows that circumcision doesn’t impact the risk level for homosexual men.
The predominance of circumcised men in the United States has been cyclical over the years. At times it is just more common for baby boys to be circumcised than others. But, there is a higher percentage of males circumcised in the U.S. than many other countries, primarily because of the influence of Judaism. About 79% of adult men in the U.S have been circumcised. Even so, the numbers have dropped off since a high of 80% of newborn boys being circumcised right after World War II. White males are more likely to be circumcised than Black or Hispanic males.
The controversy is over whether or not it is necessary to expose newborn boys to unnecessary surgeries. It is apparent that circumcision would help reduce the out of control AIDS epidemic in Africa, but would it make a difference in the United States? Its reported that the largest ‘at risk’ population in the United States wouldn’t benefit from circumcision, so I’m not quite sure what the point is of requiring it.
It seems that providing education as to the risks and benefits would be helpful, and allowing parents to make informed decisions about whether or not to have their child circumcised. Having it required will only create controversy and anger on the part of many parents who already feel the government is too intrusive in our lives. Circumcision is a delicate topic for some people. Some people have strong feelings for and against it. Some of it is religious and some is health oriented. The point is, its a pretty personal decision and most people don’t want the centralized government making the decision for them.
The money spent on requiring this procedure could be spent on education about it with plenty left over to put into more productive preventative medicines. There would probably be some left over to help offer circumcisions in African nations if they wanted the help. Either way, NOT having required circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States would save money and a lot of irritation on the part of the people. Let parents decide.
What are your thoughts?
Photo: Nils Fretwurst