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Friday, March 30, 2007

Circumcision Helps Prevent AIDS

In a stunning revelation, the World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed a series of 3 medical trials in Africa that have finally put a 20+ year-old controversy to rest. Circumcision is, indeed, better: In fact, it can prevent AIDS!

These 3 trials showed that male circumcision reduced the risk of heterosexually-acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60 per cent.

Any Americans who have had male children in the last 20+ years have been subject to Circumcision Angst: Is circumcision worth the pain it might cause the baby? However, uncircumcised boys are often the source of jokes. In the locker room they stick out in the crowd (no pun intended) and they must be very careful to clean themselves thoroughly or they take the chance of repulsing their partner and, of course, they risk disease.

Often we have been told that the most compelling reason to circumcise is when the father is circumcised himself. This has always made little sense to me: If the father has brown hair, do we need to die his son's hair to match, too? After all, if we're worrying about matching penises, shouldn't the curtains match the carpet?

However, my father's best friend (a cardiologist) helped sway our decision when he told us of studies that show the partners of circumcised men are less likely to get cervical cancer. Looking ahead to his future wife and children, it was an easy decision to make.

In America, the vast majority of men are circumcised, but only 30% of the men in the entire world's population are! So, the WHO has a daunting task ahead of them. However, this is achievable.

For instance, in some parts of Africa it is traditional to circumcise the male in late childhood or early adolescence. We don't do that in America because this causes unnecessary pain with the chance of serious complications. Since studies indicate that infants experience less pain and complications when circumcised, we choose to do it as soon as possible. However, in Africa this means that it will be easier to sell the idea to older boys as well as targeting the babies.

And the truth is that circumcision, even late in life, is preferable to death by AIDS.

27 comments:

Ed Abbey said...

I dodget this bullet when 26 weeks into my wife's pregnancy, we found that we would be having a girl.

On one hand, circumcision seems cruel and harsh and on the other it seems prudent to do. I was leaning towards doing so but will probably have another couple years before I have to contemplate the subject again.

Matt said...

Sauer, the vast majority of men in this country--including myself--are not circumcised.

Maybe a 60% majority.

I question that study on cervical cancer as the end of the debate. By how much? Who's to say someone won't do another contradictory study?

I am proud to be uncircumcised b/c it's natural and makes sex more pleasurable and is perfectly sanitary.

No offense but it's just like a woman to advocate for male genital mutilation in Africa when we're trying to... cut down... the awful practice of female genital mutilation.

I support the idea in Africa b/c, let's face it, those guys aren't going to use condoms anyway....

It amazes me how quickly women, in particular, are to jump on this circumcision argument at any chance.

My son would never be circumcised and if the hospital performed the operation against my wishes I'd sue their balls off.

Peace out, Sauer.

Matt said...

I guess you touched a nerve w/ me. :)

United We Lay said...

That's really interesting. It's a good thing my osn has been snipped.

Ed Abbey said...

Matt - Your statistics are wrong. Here is the latest study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics:

National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) says 60 percent of boys were circumcised in 2002, the most recent year for which figures are available.

Another earlier survey by the NCHS

In 1999, 65.3 percent of all male newborns born in hospitals were circumcised. The overall percentages of circumcised infants have remained relatively unchanged throughout the past two decades, ranging from a low of 60.7 percent in 1988 to 67.8 percent in 1995.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ed, re: The statistics for Matt: You beat me to the punch. Thanks.

As to contemplating what to do for your son: It's not easy, and not fun. I used to argue about this perfect little baby, made as God intended...why remove anything, especially in such a tender era, at such an early age? But I'm very glad I ended up making the decision that I did.

UWL, I seem to recall you wrestled with yourself a little bit over this.

Matt, I'm sorry you feel offended over this, because I certainly have no wish to offend you whatsoever (as you know). Still, as Ed cited, it's a well known fact that the majority of men in the U.S. ARE circumcised. And the stats he cites are only for NEWBORNS. It's an even higher percentage in the grown male population.

Incidentally, the myth that sex is more pleasurable with or without circumcision is not easily proved, since men are not usually privy to both states when they're sexually active. But as long as it's pleasurable for YOU, then great! ;o) I can certainly tell you that there are some women that I know of who heartily agree that they won't have oral sex with an uncircumcised man because (if they're not fastidiously clean) the odor is not pleasant at all.

Incidentally, the cervical cancer study was a valid one, and it makes even more sense with the additional information that we now possess. Additionally, unless an uncircumcised man scrubs after sex each time, there's an excellent chance that virus and/or bacteria can be harbored long enough to infect the man and, of course, an infected man can lead to infected partner(s).

I also have to disagree that women are quick to "jump on the circumcision bandwagon". In my experience it's the women who are always moaning about "protecting" their babies. Usually it's the men that are all for the "suck it up and get it over with" philosophy.

Hans said...

Ed- Your statistics don't address Matt's arguement. They only address the current trend not the overall numbers. There could be a lot of old timers and younger sporting the "covered wagon".

Matt- I find it odd that you are dead set against it for you and yours but support it for African men.

Saur- Locker room jokes? Repulsing there partners? What does that mean? An unattractive "Willie"? I always thought of it as more utilitarian and less aestheticly pleasing.

The practice, I believe, is similiar to the kosher laws. Originally they were about good health practices but grew into something more spirtual. Now there back to the good health practices. It makes sense but it is a choice for the parents to make. Much like the HPV vaccine.

Hans said...

Saur-

I guess you've answered my question while I was asking. My Mom's OB/GYN was a Dr. Rosenberg so the cover is off my wagon. I never really put much thought into it. Thanks for putting that visual into my mind. Really thanks.

Edge said...

I don't remember the pain I was like a few days old. If I had a son I would have circumcised him. Honestly, I don't know what you do differently if you don't.

Just circumcise them.

~Jef

Ed Abbey said...

Actually Hans, if you check out the NCHS website, older generations were greater than 80% circumcised in some areas. That would throw the percentage even higher, not lower:


July 1963 to December 1965

Census Region NE NC S W
Whites 83% 89% 74% 74%
Blacks 68% 52% 31% 54%
Combined 81% 86% 63% 73%

Valerie - Riding Solo said...

Just put me down for "Glad I'm a woman"!

The Lazy Iguana said...

Just clip that stuff off. There are lots of things we are born with that we do not need. Like the appendix. All that thing is good for is getting infected. And wisdom teeth. All they are good for is getting impacted.

The practice of female genital mutilation is not even close to the same thing. First off, they wait till the girl is having periods to do the mutilation. And what do they do then? Slice up the clitoris and other things. Sex is painful after that.

I can attest that sex without foreskin is not painful.

Also sometimes those not clipped get infections and then have to get the foreskin removed when they are older. Shudder.

The Jews invented the whole "kosher" thing. And it just so happens that the foods that are "unclean" are the same foods that can kill you, or make to violently ill, if you do not prepare them correctly. Ever get hold of bad shrimp? It is terrible. But fish with scales take to salt preservation better. The Jews also invented the remove the foreskin thing. But I think this is just so that someone could have a wallet that turns into a briefcase when you rub it.

The "God created us this way" argument does not really hold much water. God also created the duck billed platypus - what the hell is that thing? God may very well get drunk every few million years and decide to pull a prank. We do not know that he does not!

Hans said...

Ed- It's official I've now put more thought into other guys "junk" today than in my entire previous 39 years. Matt, said the vast majority of men are uncircumcised. Your earlier post along with Saurs talked about statistics for new borns post 96. I pointed out that your numbers were not painting the whole picture. I accept the new numbers.

Don't you get the impression that if our tools sneezed when we got a cold. The world's greatest minds would have found a cure for it already.

Matt said...

Ed and Sauer and co.

Okay, I got the statistics backwards. But that was the small point. I still don't believe in genital mutilation, which was my primary point (and you did not offend me).

I AM uncircumcised but it's not like there's this big flap of skin that has a bad odor. After puberty, my penis seemed to have grown to match the skin and it really doesn't fully cover the glans anymore--don't know why! It's like I'm partially circumcized.....

And I have NEVER had complaints about odor. In fact, I've been told I taste quite sweet (must be the pot).

:)

P.S. I am an atheist (a Bright) and I certainly did not bring "God" into this argument.

None of you people have changed my mind.

Matt said...

One more thing--to the commentator who foudn it "odd" that I recommended circumcision for africans but not americans.

I think I was pretty clear. They don't wear condoms. I do.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

I was given a "new type" of circumcision (seventy plus years ago) where only a portion of the foreskin went away. (Supposed to be "as healthy" but "less painful"). It has the disadvantages of circumcision with the advantages. As an coot, I can tell you that when the prostate begins to go, and the rest of you atrophies that foreskin can raise hell with "accurate" and thorough urination. Now you know more than you ever wanted to know. Don't know your age Matt, but best wishes and happy saw palmetto.

Hans said...

Matt- To be honest "odd" was not my first thought but I thought I'd give you a chance to rethink and clarify your comment. Instead you choose to justify it so I'll give you my first thought. Hypocritical.

Matt said...

Hans--No, I stand by my thought. It's not hypocritical. If they used condoms this wouldn't be an issue. I use condoms. It's very simple.

The reason for clipping foreskins in Africa was AIDS prevention. The reason they need to go to such extremes to stop HIV transmission is because they don't want to wear condoms. Health marketers can talk until they're blue in the face about condoms there... but they're communicating with people (in many states and localities) who believe that sex with a virgin (or someone who appears to be a virgin) would cure HIV. Nothing hypocritial about my comments.

Not that I support circumcision there either, I was just acknowledging that rationale from my debate apponents here.

Three Score--What you just said clarifies some things for me. I wonder if I have one of those half-cicumcisions and I just didn't realize? I'm 31. Thanks for the info. big dawg.

Senor Caiman said...

Saur,

Hon, I know you’re busy with the Grand Prix but aren’t we talking about a Grand Prick?

I would like to pose a question if I may. Would big-boned white middle age Ho’s find Homies attractive if they didn’t have the Grand uncircumcised snake? I say no.

There is a huge population of big-boned middle age white Ho’s that are finding joy in mating with Homies. I was reading just the other day how white teachers are starting to mate with their black male students. The first thing the white teachers say is they couldn’t resist the big black snake. If you were a black man would you want to hurt something that has such power? Obviously no.

I just don’t think it’s fair to take away the only thing that Homies have going for them.

Have fun at the race. If that hot woman racer is there please tell her that I would rub her feet.

Matt said...

ONe more point regarding circumcision and oral sex.

An uncircumcized (or half-circumcized) foreskin is perhaps a quarter as "messy" as a vagina. Naturally, women wouldn't want to have oral sex w/ men who don't wash.

And let me tell you, going down on a hippy girl who doesn't shower is no picnic either. :) You wanna talk about odor.

Hans said...

Original words
“I support the idea in Africa b/c, let's face it, those guys aren't going to use condoms anyway....”

New words
“Not that I support circumcision there either, I was just acknowledging that rationale from my debate apponents here.”

My point is made.

No doubt that there are some serious misconceptions about AIDS in Africa. Keep in mind that a big obstacle to condom use there is the influence of the Catholic Church. Every sperm is sacred.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Hans, I don't think we can attribute a lack of condom use in Africa to the Catholic church. Only 13% are Catholic. Most of it is simply that sex is more pleasurable without a condom than with one. BTW, you made me laugh with It's official I've now put more thought into other guys "junk" today than in my entire previous 39 years.

Matt, oh granted, oral sex is nasty if good hygiene isn't practiced - no matter whether we're speaking of male or female genitalia. My point is that it's a little more difficult for a man to keep himself clean if he isn't circumcised. Granted, it's completely possible to do it! It's just that it's more difficult. In your case, you take it seriously so it's not a problem. However, some guys don't.

I also have to echo everything that Lazy Iguana wrote. If you don't know what FGM (female genital mutilation) is, you might want to read up on it. It's apparently not what you think. It's even worse than Lazy describes, and many girls die from it.

I have heard of partial circumcisions. One of my best friend's sons has it... you may, too.

Finally, you're right about the difficulty getting Africans to use condoms. It's a continual headache for WHO and other organizations. There's also a commonly mistaken belief there that you don't need a condom if you have anal sex.

Gator, as usual, your contributions stand out from everyone else. I actually didn't go to the Grand Prix this time... there wasn't much of a story the last time, and I wasn't excited about going this time. Of course, this will be the time that someone gets blown to smithereens and I'll miss the story of a lifetime...

3 Score & ten, Interesting! As I said to Matt, one of my best friends (Zen Buddhist)'s son has a partial circumcision like that. She was always very happy that she had found a compromise.

more in a minute...

Saur♥Kraut said...

Lazy Iguana, couldn't have said it any better myself. Thanks for the contributions. As we are 99
% of the time, we seem to be on the same page.

Valerie, but once they're circumcised, that's it. Women have to deal with pregnancy, episiotomies, labor, delivery, bladder infections, yeast infections, cramps, menstruation... a guy's life is a picnic comparitively.

Ed, thanks for the informative contributions. You help me a great deal with them.

Edge, ;o)

Hans, Love the "covered wagon" euphemism. :-D

Aunt Jo said...

I had to read Senor Caiman's comment about the "wallet that turns into a briefcase" twice before I got it!! hahaha

Saur this was an informative and well written post, and waaaaay more information than I thought I would ever have or need on this subject. :o)

TLC Tugger said...

The WHO is quite desparate for some solution to the AIDS crisis. Unfortunately, large abstinence-only US influence is causing the WHO to look past the solution they already have: condoms, at 3 cents apiece.

The cut men in the 3 Africa trials contracted HIV at 6 times the US rate; and they call that a success?

The US has 3 times the AIDS problem Europe has, even though the US is mostly cut and Europe is mostly intact. Most of the half million dead American male victims of AIDS were cut at birth.

In non-cutting Japan AIDS is as rare as it is 95%-cut Israel. In the African nations of Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania, HIV is markedly more prevalent among the circumcised.

Circumcision does not prevent AIDS.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Aunti Jo, glad you liked it! ;o)

TLC Tugger, Thank you for the informative statistics. No, you're correct: Circumcision does not prevent AIDS. However, it helps to prevent it. Condoms don't prevent AIDS, for that matter. No method is foolproof. However, circumcision has been proven to help, and since it has, it should certainly be an additional weapon to add to our arsenal.

David said...

Uh, yes, condoms do prevent HIV - with nearly 100% effectiveness. To say otherwise is allowing the Christian right rhetoric to creep into your thinking. It is a lie to say circumcision "prevents" HIV. It may delay infection for chronically unsafe. Nobody, parents most definitely included, should be allowed to force an elective surgery on their children. And btw, the most common forms of female circumcision remove significantly less tissue than the American version of male circumcision. Most people are quite ignorant on that point. That said, neither is acceptable.