There was an intensive media blitz by proponents of circumcision yesterday.
Do you know what I was thinking after watching all the TV coverage last night? The circumfetishists must have given the entire video to the news agencies, prior to the NEJM release. Obviously, CBC and CTV news agencies in Canada did not send camera crews out to get that story.
On our Canadian newscasts was video footage of someone holding the NEJM magazine, footage of a Dr. Golden in his Seattle offices, footage of a boy being laid gently and lovingly on a table, footage of African men, footage of a Canadian Pediatric Society representative commenting on it. They didn’t have a single Intactivist voice on it. This is how the nightly news agencies get the coverage—the interested parties do all the work for the news broadcasters and orchestrate the publicity to look like “news”. What kind of a budget do they have? It has to be huge.
Because I’ve worked in this field so long, I can smell the rat.
When we are talking about cutting infants, remember that babies have DIED from herpes acquired during circumcision. It’s ridiculous to think that HPV would be prevented by removing the protective covering of the glans. As always happens, this “research” will not stand up to scrutiny by other scientists.
It is not based on new research. It’s the same Rakai study from a few years ago. This was conducted and published by long-time circumcision justifiers. It was not double-blinded nor placebo controlled, and given the other writings of the authors, that’s simply inexcusable. The cut African men had far more interactions with the study practitioners where safe-sex counseling occurred. It has been shown over and over that, in poor countries, the key to ending HIV/AIDS is the use of condoms.
Here’s a link to an explanation of how the pro-circumcision thinking is flawed:
I urge women to think about this from the female perspective. If you had a daughter and someone said that studies in Africa showed a reduced chance of getting AIDS by cutting female genitalia, would you yourself go and be cut and would you take your daughter to be cut? Of course, you wouldn’t. This shows how sexist the entire idea of male genital mutilation is. The stories would not get press coverage and there would be no research funding if it involved cutting girls or women. Everyone would be appalled. And yet, because we live in a culture that seems to think that boys can take this type of abuse, we permit our national media to run stories like this that will harshly affect the lives of innocent children in our country. �
Luckily, the news agencies and medical societies in other countries are not so swept up with this kind of theatrics. Here’s how the BBC covered it:
Dr Colm O’Mahony, a sexual health expert from the Countess of Chester Foundation Trust Hospital in Chester, said the US had an “obsession” with circumcision being the answer to controlling sexually transmitted infections. end of quote
Be mindful that the HIV rate in America is far higher than in Europe, where males are rarely circumcised.1 The penile cancer rate is no lower in America than it is in Europe.2 A recent study showed that urinary tract infections occurred in 6 of 24 infants circumcised by a physician (25%) and in 42 of 87 infants circumcised by a religious circumciser; the calculated odds ratio for contracting a urinary tract infection were 2.8 (95% confidence interval=1,9.4).3
A comprehensive cost-utility study found that neonatal circumcision´s complications and consequences increased health care costs 742% beyond the cost of the circumcision itself and therefore is not a justifiable public health measure.4 It concludes that if neonatal circumcision were “cost-free, pain-free, and had no immediate complications, it was still more costly than not
circumcising.”4 (p. 584)
There seems to be an overly confident notion, created by the extensive media coverage of 3 randomized clinical trials in Africa, that circumcision is partially effective against HIV. This notion ignores both contradictory evidence and the fact that the trial circumstances are not generalizable to Africa, let alone America.5 Even if male circumcision were somewhat effective in reducing HIV infection among heterosexual adults in certain areas of high HIV prevalence, the leap to recommending population-wide neonatal circumcision in North America is still unjustifiable.6
1. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/ AIDS/World Health Organization. Annex 2: HIV and AIDS estimates and data 2005 and 2003, 2006 report on the global aids epidemic. Available at: http://data.unaids.org/pub/GlobalReport/2006/2006_GR_ANN2_en.pdf Accessed December 8, 2008.
2. Frisch M, Friis S, Kjaer SK, Melbye M. Falling incidence of penis cancer in an uncircumcised population (Denmark 1943-90). BMJ. 1995;311:1471.
3. Prais D, Shoov-Furman R, Amir J. Is ritual circumcision a risk factor for neonatal urinary tract infections?
Arch Dis Child. Published online: October 6, 2008.
4. Van Howe RS. A cost-utility analysis of neonatal circumcision. Med Decis Making. 2004;24:584-601.
5. Green LW, McAllister RG, Peterson KW, Travis JW.
Male circumcision is not the `vaccine´ we have been waiting for! Future HIV Ther. 2008;2(3):193-199.
6. Sidler D, Smith J, Rode H. Neonatal circumcision does not reduce HIV/AIDS infection rates. S Afr Med J. 2008;98(10):762-766.