Thursday, January 26, 2012

Circumcision in Africa: We Keep Warning. Is Anybody Listening?

Ever since the WHO endorsed circumcision as HIV prevention in 2006, we intactivists have been trying our best to warn promoters of circumcision, and organizers of so-called "mass-circumcision" campaigns that this is going to backfire.

We keep warning that the studies are horribly flawed, that empirical data completely contradicts the results in the so-called "research," and that African men are going to see this as nothing other than a green light for unprotected sex, putting millions of men and women in danger of sexually transmitted HIV.

Nope, major charities and organizations such as Bill and Melinda Gates and PEPFAR are in Africa bankrolling so-called "mass circumcision campaigns" full-speed ahead. Whenever any of these organizations puts out any sort of statement, it's always "circumcision, circumcision, circumcision." Abstinence, faithfulness and condoms seem to have been placed on the back burner, and are barely even mentioned, if at all.

How is it possible that we are over-stating an alternative to the most effective mode of protection against sexually transmitted HIV known to us?

In May last year, I wrote a similar post to this one. PANOS Eastern Africa had put out a report that showed that the circumcision/HIV messages meant to reduce the prevalence of the disease were actually facilitating its spread. I also gave instances of others warning that this is precisely what would happen, as well as many cases in point in vivo.

It is now the end of January, starting a new year, and neither PEPFAR nor Bill Gates etc. have changed their message. In fact, these organizations and more have come out stronger than ever in their drive to circumcise the whole of Africa. In December last year, PEPFAR kicked off another year reinforcing the circumcision campaigns in Africa. Very recently, Bill Gates released his 2012 annual letter, and, as expected, he pushed circumcision. Circumcision, claims Gates, reduces AIDS transmission by a whopping 70%. Where IS he getting this number from? Why ISN'T this number manifested in the real world?

More Reports Come In
While you'll hear in the news about how "successful" the "mass circumcision campaigns" have been (not so much in reducing HIV, but in how many men they've managed to dupe), you won't hear about reports warning that men and women are taking home the wrong message.

According to, "Nyanza provincial director of public health and sanitation, who is also the task force chairman Jackson Kioko, said there have been reports that those who have been circumcised are taking it as immunity against HIV."

PlusNews reports of a study in Kenya conducted by the University of Illinois' Chicago School of Public Health, which found, among other things, that "most women were happy with the appearance of their partner's penis and enjoyed sex more after circumcision." (Others studies will find that there are men that like the experience of their partner's circumcised vulvas, and that they enjoy sex more, but we'll not ever hear about them.) As sexist and degrading as this "study" is to men, it was supposed to be the study's "plus" side. On the negative, the study found that the women believed that condoms were less necessary than circumcision, that they were more likely to have more than one sexual partner, and to have sex without a condom. One would think that these issues would have been addressed BEFORE rolling out these so-called "circumcision campaigns?"

Nevermind the ethical dilemma of endorsing genital mutilation in the name of  public health interests, and nevermind the sexist, misandrist marketing practices of trying to sexify circumcision, and stigmatize intact men. And nevermind the fact that plans are already underway to forcibly circumcise newborns and youth.

Is nobody concerned that the promotion of circumcision will deprecate the value of cheaper, more effective, less invasive HIV prevention measures, thereby putting the lives of millions of African men and women in danger???

The Warning Continues...
The promotion of circumcision as HIV prevention is a catastrophic mistake. Even if the "research" was correct, and it is horrendously flawed, circumcision would fail to deliver the efficacy of HIV prevention methods which far exceed it. In light of condoms and education, which have been conclusively proven to prevent HIV, promoting circumcision is an impertinent disservice in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The promotion of circumcision will result is already resulting in Africans perceiving the most effective HIV prevention known to us as an expendable option. The promotion of circumcision is going to backfire, sending the wrong message, putting the lives of men and women in danger. The promotion of circumcision is going to be a waste of precious funds, where they are desperately needed in other areas (i.e. food, water, access to actually needed healthcare, etc). The promotion of circumcision is an ethical, scientific scandal waiting to explode. The promotion of circumcision is going to be a disaster that is going to haunt any organization and individual that ever endorsed it.

Even if the "research" was accurate, circumcision fails. Circumcision fails, and this is why even the very authors cannot stress the importance of condoms enough. Condoms would prevent, not only the transmission of HIV, but the transmission of other STDs more effectively, and more efficiently. Condoms would prevent STD transmission not only in men, but in their partners as well. Additionally, condoms prevent unwanted pregnancy. Circumcision does not.

It is going to prove a fatal mistake to have ever endorsed a dubious alternative to the only effective method of HIV prevention ever known to us.

It is endorsing the grossest violation of  the most basic of human rights.

Consider this: There would never be enough "science" or "research" to endorse the promotion of female circumcision to prevent ANYTHING.

It wouldn't matter if female circumcision were made "painless," "bloodless," and it didn't affect a girl's sexuality. It wouldn't matter if female circumcision were performed in the clean environment of the hospital, by a trained professional, using pain killers and the most pristine, and most "advanced" utensils. Why do "researchers" grope for reasons to promote male circumcision?

Genital mutilation, whether wrapped in "science," "research," and feigned interests in public health, is still, in the end, genital mutilation.

The day will come when anyone whoever endorsed this despicable human rights violation will be too embarrassed to ever admit that they did.

May god have mercy on their souls.


  1. LOL. I mean, really; at some point you really just have to laugh at the utter absurdity of existence. Just think about it: If people such as Bill Gates can be so wrongheaded about such obvious snake oil, then there really is no hope for our modern "civilization".

    George Carlin: "When you're born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat."

    This will all be great fodder for future historians.

  2. It never ceases to amaze me that supposedly smart people like Bill Gates can be fooled into supporting the most ridiculous, harmful and abusive ideas.