The New York Times reported that public health officials are contemplating promoting circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States as a method of controlling the spread of HIV (Medicaid doesn't currently cover circumcision) (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/health/policy/24circumcision.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss). The officials examined studies in Africa that showed circumcised heterosexual men have lower HIV infection rates.
Any proposal is not going to be available until the end of the year, but should it go ahead, I have a problem with this.
As detailed in American Prospect (http://prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=08&year=2009&base_name=should_the_cdc_recommend_circu), the problem with the studies being applied to males in the United States is that there is a huge discrepancy between available medical care in the United States and the countries studied in Africa. There is also a difference in the populations most at risk. While heterosexual males are at risk in Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda, homosexual males are more at risk in the United States. The also study shows that circumcision does not affect the risk level for homosexual men. Gay men apparently make up more than half of new HIV infections in the United States, so making circumcision mandatory may not actually result in lower infection rates.
There is a higher percentage of males circumcised in the U.S. than many other countries, primarily because of the influence of Judaism. About 79% of adult men in the United States have been circumcised. Even so, the numbers have dropped off since a high of 80% of newborn boys being circumcised right after World War II. White males are more likely to be circumcised than Black or Hispanic males.
Why should ALL newborn boys be exposed to unnecessary surgery? Circumcision might potentially reduce the AIDS epidemic in Africa, but would it make a difference in the United States? It is reported that the largest 'at risk' population in the United States would not benefit from circumcision. So what is the point of requiring such an intrusive policy?
It would be more useful to provide education on risks and benefits of circumcision, and allow parents to make informed decisions about whether or not to have their child circumcised for religious or health reasons. The money spent on requiring this procedure would be better spent on research and productive preventative medicines.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but the biggest problem I have with this is that requiring something as personal as circumcision decreed by government regulation is state intrusion gone WAY too far. What next? I can't bear to think of any examples. I am hoping the conclusion of this will be to let parents decide l
et the individual boy decide when he is at an age where he can make an informed decision himself do nothing.