It was something I would expect to find only on one of those cheesy infomercial channels, but there it was on the BBC website.
In the heading underneath the video, you can see it, as if it were irrefutable fact:
"Male circumcision reduces the chances of men in heterosexual relationships becoming infected with HIV."
This should have been my first clue.
This would more accurately read "horrendously flawed and heavily manipulated "research" suggests that male circumcision *might* be responsible for reducing the chances of sexually promiscuous men in Sub-Saharan Africa with multiple partnerships, who don't wear condoms, from becoming infected with HIV."
I was expecting more from a British, non-American news outlet.
At first glance, you would think that the people portrayed might be genuinely interested in HIV prevention in Africa, but upon closer inspection, you find that it's simply more circumcision propaganda, particularly the promotion of the PrePex circumcision device.
How does circumcision prevent HIV?
It's disconcerting enough to hear a woman mindlessly chant the well-worn line that "circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission in men by 60%." (What does this actually mean, anyway? 60% of what?)
Note: The woman that appears is the Health Minister of Rwanda. According to a demographic health survey taken in 2005, the ratio of circumcised vs. intact men who contracted HIV was 3.8 vs 2.1. (See p. 10) 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 Rwanda. (In America, 80% of the male population is circumcised from birth.) It is disconcerting that the Health Minister is either not aware of the facts, or she is deliberately ignoring them. I suspect she may be receiving a bribe from Bill and Melinda Gates, PEPFAR or whatnot to boldly ignore the situation in her own country.
What is truly disturbing is to see a video on BBC, where a man touts that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV by making the head of the penis tough and callused like the sole of the foot, acting like a "barrier," as if it were matter of fact.
"A person living without shoes, they have very hard skin. They are walking on stone every day, without any wounds. So it's the same thing with the penis."
"Researchers" may claim that circumcision "reduces the risk of HIV transmission by 60%," there is not a single doctor, scientist or "researcher" that can say with certainty that the callused penis acts as a "barrier" against HIV. To be certain, there is absolutely no scientific basis for this claim.
In actuality, this, the theory that the keratinized surface of the penis in circumcised male resists infection, while the tender mucosa of the glans and inner of the intact male are ports of entry, is perhaps the oldest hypothesis on the mechanism whereby circumcision prevents the transmission of HIV.
It has also long been debunked.
One study found that there is "no difference between the keratinization of the inner and outer aspects of the adult male foreskin," and that "keratin layers alone were unlikely to explain why uncircumcised men are at higher risk for HIV infection." Another study found that "no difference can be clearly visualized between the inner and outer foreskin."
To be sure, while "researchers" insist with skewed statistics that there is a "correlation" between circumcision and a reduction in HIV transmission, there is not a one that can demonstrate precisely how this happens.
Few people know this, but the famous big three "studies" from Africa lack a working hypothesis. The claim that circumcision "reduces the risk of HIV transmission by 60%" is pure speculation; there is not a single doctor, scientist or researcher who can provide a demonstrable causal link between the foreskin and HIV transmission.
And yet, here we have it, a man on a video on BBC, pretending to tell us exactly how circumcision works.
Why the BBC allows such drivel on their website is mind-boggling.
Conflicts of interest
In the video, a particular woman stands out. Her eyes are wide and glowing, and she tells us, grinning like a french poodle, the wonders of circumcision, and how this new device does away with "that unwanted foreskin." "Unwanted" by whom? Why is she so enthusiastic about circumcision? Particularly this new "PrePex" device? And why does it seem like she's more excited about getting millions circumcised, than she is about HIV prevention? Why is the fact that, even if "studies" were correct, circumcision is not "100% effective" an afterthought?
The enthusiastic woman in the video is Tzameret Fuerst, CEO of Circ MedTech, the company marketing the PrePex device. If my presumptions are correct, she is the wife of Oren Fuerst, co-inventor of this device. Millions of men circumcised means that millions of PrePex devices will be bought and used. She's cashing in on the HIV gravy train, and that's why she's smiling.
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.
But this would not be the only conflict of interest this woman has. PrePex was invented by Israeli researchers Oren Fuerst, Ido Kilemnick, and Shaul Shohat.
Why do I mention this fact?
I find it increasingly disturbing, the idea that there are Israelis, and Jewish people intent on evangelizing circumcision to other parts of the world. Shusterman Foundation paid Neil Pollock, a professional mohel and child circumcisor by trade, to promote infant circumcision in Rwanda. The Jerusalem AIDS Project (JAIP) created Operation Abraham, which is an organization whose sole purpose is to promote circumcision any which way it can. They've gone as far as Africa, Mexico, and even America to do just this.
A disproportionate number of "researchers" and outspoken members of medical organizations just "happen" to be Jewish. Aaron J. Fink, the very inventor of the idea that circumcision might prevent AIDS was Jewish. Stephen Lewis, former head of UNAIDS, is Jewish; he founded AIDS-Free World in 2007, and he uses this organization to gather funding for male circumcision programs. Daniel Halperin, a lead circumcision "researcher" is Jewish (his grandfather was a mohel). On May 28th 2010, at the UNC School of Medicine, Halperin lectured on "Moyels without Borders?: Barriers to Scale-up of Circumcision."
The list goes on.
So in the end, what's this all about?
Is it really about HIV prevention?
Is it about cashing in on the opportunity? Striking while the iron's hot?
Or do people's intentions on spreading circumcision run deeper than that?
Is this really about HIV prevention? Or is it about popularizing and safeguarding a religious and cultural tradition that has come ever under scrutiny? (Cases, in point, the San Francisco Ban, efforts by the Dutch to discourage circumcision etc.)
This video on the BBC website is nothing more than a paid advertisement for the PrePex device. It's rubbish "as-seen-on-TV" telemarketing that isn't even fit to be on infomercial channel, and the BBC ought to be ashamed for publishing it.
The words in this blog belong strictly to Joseph4GI, and do not necessarily reflect the views of other intactivists. Please do not conflate my pointing out of conflicts of interest with anti-Semitism. It is simply matter-of-fact that circumcision is an important and indispensable religious custom to Jews, one that they have historically fought to defend for centuries. Being both Jewish and a circumcision "researcher" presents a conflict of interest, because it places one in the awkward position of reporting accurate findings, and questioning the propriety of what, for Jews, has been a historically controversial and ethically problematic religious practice.
Other posts of interest:
Where Circumcision Doesn't Prevent HIV
The "Anti-Semite" Card No Longer Washes
Excellent post Joseph! Your questions are important and beg to be properly answered. Particularly "... or do people's intentions on spreading circumcision run deeper than that?"ReplyDelete
Indeed this is the million dollar question that when it properly begins to get answered, and the answer is obvious, then circumcision will die a natural death.
Something else that is worthy of note is the fact that when I tried to view this video I was told 'media not available in your country'. I live in Scotland which, for people who don't already know, is in Great Britain and therefore under the jurisdiction of the British Broadcasting Cooperation or BBC as they are commonly known. Why is my license fee being spent on this twaddle and why am I not even allowed to see what I've paid for???ReplyDelete
I'm still curious as to what will happen to all these "circumcision researchers" when in 20 years it is easily proven through numbers alone that the number of people in these countries who have HIV/AIDS hasn't dropped at all despite the number of circumcised males.ReplyDelete
What will their excuse be? "Well, it appeared to work temporarily as we ignored all other data, and made us a shit ton of money, so we figured it was okay"?
Well done for bringing this to our notice. Now we must group and go gunning for those liars.ReplyDelete
Disturbing indeed. Could you find other people in the UK that are experiencing this same problem? If it is how you say in the rest of the UK, then it sounds like the video is propaganda for a specific target audience.
They are carefully hedging. It is, I believe, the whole point of touting "60%, but not 100%, but circumcise the world anyway!" I have a feeling that when the numbers don't match (they HAVEN'T MATCHED IN 10 out of 18 AFRICAN COUNTRIES as per USAID), they'll say one of two things;
1. "The African countries didn't act fast enough to circumcise everybody" or
2. "We told you it was only 60%."
Their conclusion will probably still be "all men need to be circumcised, we must scale up circumcision to see results."
Another possible reply might be "Well, we acted with the data we had (better said "myopically selected") at the time..." ANYTHING to avoid admitting mea culpa.
"You don't have to come and confess, we're looking for you, we're gonna find you, we're gonna find you."
In 20 years time, the HIV problem will have been handily curbed by real scientific advancement such as a working vaccine.ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, if the mass-circumcision campaigns are actually implemented with any thoroughness, then no doubt will circumcision be erroneously labeled for decades thereafter as one of the useful tools employed against HIV; this disgrace of epidemiology will be hidden in the success of the vaccine, and entire cultures will have been altered to perpetuate the assault.
People grasp at straws to defend practices like genital mutilation. Women defend their decision to allow their baby boys to be mutilated, and men defend their own mutilated penises. Virtually nobody alive today in a circumcising culture will listen to reason; the wrongheaded notion that circumcision DOES effectively prevent HIV (and other nasty problems) is already widespread across the circumcising world (the MSM saw to that with their sensationalist headlines).
The damage is done.
Our only hope is to keep pumping credible challenges in peer-reviewed journals, so that medical historians of the future aren't misled by today's pro-circumcision propaganda.
I've submitted a complaint to the BBC for this dross, complaining that they're promoting bad science and that they have reported in a shockingly biased manner.ReplyDelete
Hopefully I'll get some response.
I didn't even bring up the point that I, like Tydomin, am a UK resident who pays a lisence fee, yet I was told the video was not available in my area.
It pains me to have to criticise the BBC because I think it's one of the best things about Britain, and I value it very highly, but I object vehemently to them using lisence payers money in order to push this kind of atrocity.
ARGH This makes me so angry!!! I would think the BBC would have better sense. I guess their reputation for intellectual honesty is not deserved. At all.ReplyDelete
I am in England and also cannot view the video. It is 'not available in my territory', apparently....fishy much?ReplyDelete
I've written to the BBC omnibusman 4 months ago about the same video, and have gotten no reply. Surprise, surprise. Actually, no suprise, as the segment is usually run on the BBC's man-bashing Woman's World segment.ReplyDelete
BTW, the BBC story also claims there are zero fatalities from the procedure, in an African where antibiotics are considered luxury goods.ReplyDelete
This is a great post, but I must point out that Bill Gates is not being intentionally evil and almost certainly does not bribe people:ReplyDelete
Bill Gates wants to do good, but has no idea how to run a Charity. He has a history of getting money conned from his charity:
A few years ago, a front for the Discovery-Institute(Young-Earth Fundamental Creationists) conned money from the charity Bill/Melinda-Gates. Both Bill and Melinda are both agnostic atheists accepting the mountains of evidence for modern cosmology, geology, and biological evolution.
The Discovery-Institute conned almost 10 million dollars from Gates.
Bill Gates is many things but good at managing his charity is not 1 of them. Indeed, he is incompetent.
“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence”
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
Robert J. Hanlon
(Known as Robert J. Hanlon’s Razor)
“You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity”
Robert Anson Heinlein
“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice.”
Robert Anson Heinlein
(Known As Robert Anson Heinlein’s Razor)
If I would be Bill & Melinda Gates, I would find the best charity-manager out there, hire that person no matter what the cost, and fix the charity. Running Micro$oft.Com on the weekdays and trying to manage a Charity for an hour on the thirds Sunday of every month ending in R makes for a badly run charity.
KAS said "I'm still curious as to what will happen to all these "circumcision researchers" when in 20 years it is easily proven through numbers alone that the number of people in these countries who have HIV/AIDS hasn't dropped at all despite the number of circumcised males."ReplyDelete
No worries! Blame the victim! If the HIV rate goes down after circumcision (plus condoms, counselling etc.) programmes, circumcision will get the credit. If it stays the same or goes up, the men will be blamed for not carrying out the other measures. You can be sure that whatever happens, nobody will ever admit that circumcision does no good.