A number of "researchers" are on a mission to "prove" that infant circumcision prevents STIs in adults, and therefore children ought to be circumcised as newborns. There are a few problems with this line of thinking, beginning with the ethics of removing normal, healthy tissue in healthy, non-consenting minors who are not sexually active, and therefore at zero risk for STIs, and the fact that even if the above reasoning held any water, condoms would still be more effective at preventing disease.
I recently came across this poster which tells of the sobering reality of STIs in the United States.
If the above poster is to be believed, 65 million Americans are living with an incurable STI. That's one in five of the population. The asterisk following the given 65 million figure indicates that this data is given by none other than the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
If American circumcision pundit Edgar Schoen is to be believed, well over 80% of US males are circumcised from birth. With an adult circumcision prevalence rate of 80% or greater, the United States should serve as a prime example of the "benefits" of circumcision, or lack thereof. Yet, compared with other countries where circumcision is rare or not practiced, the United States does poorly when it comes to the prevention of STIs.
American doctors, "researchers," medical organizations and charity funds are currently placing much time, effort and precious funds in efforts to circumcise the majority of males in Africa under the pretext of HIV prevention. "Researchers" claim that that circumcision cuts HIV transmission rates by 55 to 65 percent, based on three African trials, and so PEPFAR and several other very well-funded and influential N.G.Os, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are funding, supporting and administering a multinational effort to circumcise over 28 million men in Sub Saharan Africa by 2015. And yet when it comes to circumcision and HIV prevalence rates, the United States isn't a very good model of reference.
In fact, AIDS rates in some US Cities rival hotspots in Africa. In some parts of the U.S., they're actually higher than those in sub-Saharan Africa. According to a 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, rates of HIV among adults in Washington, D.C. exceed 1 in 30; rates higher than those reported in Ethiopia, Nigeria or Rwanda. The Washington D.C. district report on HIV and AIDS reported an increase of 22% from 2006 in 2009. According to Shannon L. Hader, HIV/AIDS Administration, Washington D.C., March 15, 2009, "[Washington D.C.'s] rates are higher than West Africa... they're on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya." (Hader once led the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work in Zimbabwe.)
According to the CIA World Factbook, the United States has a higher HIV prevalence rate than 53 countries where circumcision is rare (e.g. under 20%) or not practiced. The United States has more HIV than:
Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Cambodia, Peru, Nepal, Switzerland, Vietnam, Ecuador, France, Chile, Spain, Moldova, Mexico, Italy, India, Iceland, Costa Rica, Canada, Belarus, Austria, Paraguay, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Bolivia, Bhutan, United Kingdom, Belgium, Nicaragua, Laos, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sweden
One would expect for there to be a lower HIV prevalence in the United States, where the great majority of males are circumcised from birth, and for HIV to be rampant in Europe, where circumcision is rare, if at all practiced. It is telling that the HIV epidemic struck in our country during the 1980s, when 90% of the male population was already circumcised. And not only did it strike, America was the one place in all of the developed world where the disease took root and spread. Somehow, we're supposed to believe that what never worked in our own country, is going to start working miracles in Africa. If ever there was an intervention that failed to prevent HIV transmission (and if this poster is to be believed, the transmission of most any other STI) it is routine infant circumcision.
I've already talked about how the magical 60% prevention figure simply doesn't manifest itself in the real world in other posts (see here and here), and I've already talked about the disgraceful actions that the WHO has given de facto endorsement to, including forced circumcisions in children and adult men (circumcision was supposed to be "voluntary," remember?), and the use circumcision as a condition for participation in sports. I've also already talked about how there is no scientifically demonstrable causal link between the presence of the foreskin and increased HIV transmission, and/or it's removal and decreased HIV transmission, all "studies" being based on correlational hypothesis.
Let's just assume for a moment that all of the science is solid. Let's assume the all too famous 60% figure we are given is 100% infallible (real world data tells us otherwise, but let's press on). Circumcision would still FAIL to prevent HIV or any other STI. It fails so terribly that circumcised men must still be urged to wear condoms. There isn't a single doctor or "researcher" that can deny this fact. At which point it must be asked, why even bother with circumcision?
What male in the right mind would choose to be circumcised given complete information?
Why violate the integrity of a healthy, non-consenting minor, to afford a dubious benefit better afforded by the use of condoms which would be cheaper, less invasive and more effective in preventing STIs?
Again, infant circumcision never prevented anything in our country. The data is staring us right in the face, and not even the CDC can deny it. How is it suddenly going to start working wonders in Africa?
Upworthy presents the above poster under the following heading:
"People Say The Dumbest Things Right Before They Have Sex. Here Are Some Of Them."
This can be added to the poster; "I don't have to wear a condom; I'm circumcised."
Where Circumcision Doesn't Prevent HIV
Where Circumcision Doesn't Prevent HIV II
MASS CIRCUMCISION CAMPAIGNS: The Emasculation and Harassment of Africa
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