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Friday, December 15, 2006


Keep in mind that that study was conducted in Africa, where AIDS spread follows a different pattern and has different complicating factors (there is some indication that active malaria infection might make HIV in the same host several times more contagious, for instance) than it does over here. This research really is not a compelling reason to circumcise kids who are not living under the same circumstances in the thick of the epidemic.

Which is not to say I think you shouldn't have circumcized your kid--it seems to me that the risks of having it done (pain and potential complications from the procedure) vs. not having it done (slightly higher infection risk) are about even. Definitely personal-choice-and-none-of-my-damned-business-unless-
it's-my-own-kid territory.

We opted not to have it done on a general principle of not choosing ANY medical intervention where benefits don't really obviously far outweigh the risks. If I lived in sub-Saharan Africa, I might have come to a different conclusion.

Sharon, that's actually my point. I'm not saying people should go out an have their kids circumcised; I just remember Dr. Edell berating all of us for having it done to our kids.

I have mixed feelings about the procedure myself -- I'm not overly religious and hence did not have a deep need to have my son circumsised, though we did it anyway. In fact, I'm like you in that I do not like unnecessary medical procedures.

But Dr. Edell was exceptionally condescending, which really bothered me. Even worse, it turns out his information was not fully informed.

Also, what you say about differences about how HIV moves through the African population is something I was not aware of.

You said it perfectly: "Definitely personal-choice-and-none-of-my-damned-business-unless-it's-my-own-kid territory."


We are against circ. But totally agree that it's a difficult and charged decision - so I want to stress that I am totally in support of personal choice here. (although I am happy that there is a movement towards not, if just to open the field and make both seem like normal options - you know, so it's not just done without thinking.)

That said - I just wanted to point that I've read that some of these Africa studies were flawed. Now - must say, I don't feel qualified to question the studies - but totally eager to see if there isn't something going on here. And it also seems as if some of the more recent studies might be different from earlier ones...Maybe there is nothing questionable about recent ones leading to this.

Slippery slope I guess. What if they found that female circ. hindered disease? And then of course, the arguement that cutting off breasts (or any other body parts) would also cut rate of that type of cancer. Again - just thought provoking.

As always, thanks brett for the conversation!

Kate, I too worry that the studies are flawed. I looked past that primarily because Edell so irritated me a few years back that I couldn't resist.

Foreskin does not cause AIDS and circumcision does not prevent AIDS. 450,000 US men who were cut at birth have died of AIDS. AIDS is as rare in non-cutting Japan as it is in 95% cut Israel.

The researchers don't claim circumcision can prevent HIV, just lower the overall risk.

After reading the article, the first thing that came to mind is 1) how long a study this was and 2) how frequently people had sex. My inclination is that men who are circumcised probably have sex less frequently until they're healed, or until they are comfortable with their new image. Knowing more details about the study would be very helpful, and doing a study over a period of 5-10 years would be a benefit too.

In the end, it still comes down to safe sex. A surgical procedure that may or may not work is an expensive endeavor compared to condoms. We're against circumcision, unless someone chooses it for themselves. We're also against lecturing people about it ;-)

No one has the right to mutilate a helpless infant male's healthy penis.

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