Unless you are living under a rock -- or in a much kinder, secluded world someplace -- you have noticed the pop media articles discussing all the 'research' we are doing in Africa involving HIV and African's penises (yes, another sexually transmitted infection study conducted by white, American men in lab coats on black, unsuspecting persons from a foreign country).
Companies, corporations and groups that benefit from the surgical removal of the prepuce organ and/or benefit from the rampant sale of foreskins, back this problematic 'study' that continues to be spread across U.S. headlines like candy for our circumfetish taste buds.
The latest pop media article appeared today in the New York Times. Although this article is careful to state that, "There is little to no evidence that circumcision protects men who have sex with men from infection," it steers the reader to believe that circumcised men who have sex with women are protected from infection. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Times article also states that 'observational studies' indicate intact men have higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), yet neglects to mention the past 30 years of empirical, peer-reviewed research conducted world-wide in the areas of human sexuality, health, and disease that show exactly the opposite to be true. In fact, intact men living in developed nations have much lower rates of all sexually transmitted infections, HIV included.
One of the primary purposes of the prepuce organ (foreskin) is to naturally protect, clean, and kill foreign invaders with its own special concoction of antibodies. Remove the prepuce, and this most excellent source of protection is gone. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that circumcised men (in all countries) have higher rates of all STIs (including HIV) across the board. Intact men certainly are at a benefit as far as health is concerned.
That being said, the U.S. has (by far) the highest rate of circumcised adult men of any Western nation. We circumcise more baby boys (currently about 32% of newborns) than any other nation on earth (far more than any other country, as Canada has the next highest circumcision rate of only 10%). The United States also has the highest rate of all sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) of any developed nation. Western nations where 98-99% of their boys/men remain intact have the lowest rates of STIs (including HIV). If circumcision 'protected' against diseases we would not see these figures to such an extreme and obvious degree.
Despite all of this, why are we focusing so much on cutting/not cutting genitals when it comes to STIs and HIV?! The only real protection comes from (1) abstaining from sex w/ infected partners or (2) condom use. We already know these things. Did we forget? Maybe we should pour our resources into condom use/education in South Africa and here on the home front rather than trying to cut everyone up...Instead of spending any more energy, time and money hashing out whether or not we should chop up baby boy's penises at birth, we should concentrate on methods that actually DO prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, such as condom education and dispersal.
In addition to the mis-information portrayed by the African/HIV/circumcision study behind this Times article, countless medical groups from around the world have critiqued and called into question the methods used for this study. When first "results" showed no difference between cut vs. uncut men, another small sample of African men was 'recruited' and divided ahead of time into those who tested positive vs. negative for HIV, and those who were intact vs. circumcised, so the sample could be an accurate picture of what they were hoping to show. Although the whole thing is bogus to begin with -- even if it were valid, it has nothing to do with the routine infant circumcision of baby boys in the United States.
The Times article also mentions the commonly thrown around belief that circumcision reduces rates of urinary tract infections in baby boys (under the age of 1). However, UTIs among boys/men are very rare to begin with, and when they do occur, are almost always due to a well-meaning, but misinformed adult 'messing' with, forcibly retracting, or over-cleaning a baby boy's penis and foreskin. Women and girls have a 900x greater likelihood of getting a UTI than their male counterparts. Should we cut off the prepuce organ from all baby girls at birth as well to protect them from their real risk of a UTI? Obviously they would 'benefit' more than the boys do... No, of course not. Because UTIs are easy to prevent with proper information, and when they do occur, they are minor and EASILY and quickly treated with antibiotics.
Fortunately more and more physicians who are knowledgeable and well-educated on this topic are speaking up and loudly saying "NO" to the practice: DoctorsOpposingCircumcision.org.
Doctors and other health care specialists are openly taking a stand and dispersing the myths and misconceptions behind the genital cutting practice in the United States. In popular media shows like Penn & Teller, as well as in more research-based educational films such as Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision and The Circumcision Decision, we are reminded that circumcision is a "solution" in search of a problem. We have tried (for almost a century now) to come up with an excuse for our rampant chopping of baby penises. First, Kellogg and Graham told the country that we could decrease masturbation (1940s) by circumcising all boys. We would prevent blindness and other ills. It would curtail men's sexual exploits and we would see a decrease in birth out of wedlock (1950s). We believed it would cure and prevent cancer (1960s) and make a significant difference in urinary tract infections, and even cancer among women. We just keep trying to come up with something - anything - to justify why the United States is the only country in the world genitally cutting 50% of newborn baby boys.
There are reasons -- and quite a few actually -- that no medical or health organization in the world recommends infant circumcision. There are reasons that more and more religious Jews today are electing to have a Brit Shalom in place of circumcising their son. There are reasons that those in the Christian faith are becoming educated on what the Bible, specifically Jesus in the New Testament, says about circumcision, before subjecting their sons to genital cutting. There are reasons that Australia is on the brink of joining several other countries (Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Germany, among other European nations) in banning all forms of genital mutilation on baby boys or girls and making it illegal for doctors to amputate the prepuce organ from non-consenting persons.
The most problematic aspect of the argument stirring this Times article and the select pro-circ groups attempting to lobby the CDC into advocating for routine infant circumcision is the severe violation of human rights that occurs when a healthy, functioning organ is permanently removed from a non-consenting person. Even though we know that circumcision does not prevent HIV - if it DID -- even if it prevented ALL HIV -- would we then be justified in taking away a man's personal genital integrity by forcibly amputating his prepuce as an infant? Forever taking away HIS choice in the matter.
We could very well amputate ALL breasts from all girls and witness the disappearance of breast cancer before our eyes. After all, breast cancer inflicts FAR more women in this country than HIV ever has.
Should we then do so?
This argument is not only completely absurd, but entirely misguided.
Hopefully, when it comes to basic human rights and genital integrity, the United States will introduce the MGM Bill along side the FGM Bill and follow suit with the rest of the educated world in recognizing that we have no business mixing knives and babies' penises. We are all about freedom of choice here, right? Well, it is HIS body, HIS penis - and it certainly should be HIS choice.
Until your adult, grown son elects to travel to Africa on his own accord and engage in unprotected, sexual intercourse with an HIV positive, African man, and chooses for himself to amputate his prepuce organ ahead of time in hopeful preparation for his ventures -- LEAVE HIM INTACT.
Disposable "Tara Klamp" Circumcision ClampFor more on this topic:
1) This 'study' ended early in Africa because too many new people were contracting HIV.
2) Article: The Truth about Circumcision and HIV
3) Article: The Nuts & Bolts of HIV in the U.S.
4) Latest News: HIV Increases Among Circumcised African Men
5) When pro-circ groups failed to show a statistically significant decrease in infection with reliable results in Africa, they tried another tactic -- stating that the amputation was "better for women."
6) Intact America has easily accessible, up-to-date news briefs on circumcision studies around the world. The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers and the Circumcision Information Cite are also excellent sources for staying current on topics involving circumcision, sexually transmitted infections, and the laws regarding this topic.