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Circumcision Reduces AIDS Risk

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Posted on Dec 14, 2006

According to officials from the National Institutes of Health, circumcision reduces the risk in men of contracting HIV through heterosexual sex by roughly 50%.  The announcement was based on several recent studies conducted in Africa.

New York Times:

The two trials, conducted by researchers from universities in Illinois, Maryland, Canada, Uganda and Kenya, involved nearly 3,000 heterosexual men in Kisumu, Kenya, and nearly 5,000 in Rakai, Uganda. None were infected with H.I.V. They were divided into circumcised and uncircumcised groups, given safe sex advice (although many presumably did not take it), and retested regularly.

The trials were stopped this week by the N.I.H. Data Safety and Monitoring Board after data showed that the Kenyan men had a 53 percent reduction in new H.I.V. infection. Twenty-two of the 1,393 circumcised men in that study caught the disease, compared with 47 of the 1,391 uncircumcised men.

In Uganda, the reduction was 48 percent.

Those results echo the finding of a trial completed last year in Orange Farm, a township in South Africa, financed by the French government, which demonstrated a reduction of 60 percent among circumcised men.

The two largest agencies dedicated to fighting AIDS said they would now be willing to pay for circumcisions, which they have not before because there was too little evidence that it worked.

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By Aster, December 11, 2008 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In Africa at least circumsized men are more likely to do so for religious reasons, especially being a Muslim. You might expect Muslims to have less sex, because their religion requires them to restrict it to marriage. Could that be an explanation?

Why are all of these studies being done in Africa? They should do a study on this in the US where people circumsize their babies out of habit and see if there’s any difference and how much.

Another possible explanation is that if you’re uncircumsized sex is more pleasureable and you’ll have more of it. Also in countries where most people are uncircumsized women might find circumsizion to be unattractive, so you’d have less chances. But in the end using condoms reduces the risk of getting HIV to almost nothing (but there’s still a chance) if you use the condom right, so why waste money getting people circumsized, just give them condoms.

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By jack, May 18, 2007 at 9:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

1st, it so so outrageous that the US is paying for all of this nonsense.  The study is bad science and the highest rate they got was a bit over 50%.  But the condom use instructions were different and there was really no way for then to know who did use condoms.  Also, the other study by Bill Gates had a higher rate of man to woman transmission for the circed guys.  Implementing this circ thing could raise the rate.

Now it turns out that female circ also could lower aids.  Who is ready for us to pay for that!!!

We need to stop this madness and send them condoms.


A Tanzanian study has found that female circumcision reduces HIV transmission. Biologically, the explanation for this is probably the same as for male circumcision.

If female circumcision is medicalised in a similar way to male circumcision, it can be made safer and less damaging.

“The downplaying of these facts in the media is a powerful reflection of Western cultural attitudes,” they said.

“We have already decided that female circumcision is an appalling human rights violation and so do not even flirt with the idea of using it as an HIV prevention tool.

“Similar arguments apply to mastectomy in teenage girls, even though this would be effective to prevent breast cancer in later life.

“The difference with male circumcision is that it is still tolerated

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By jack, January 12, 2007 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey one often reads of the possible health benifits of the cut.  How about the slow decline of sexual funtion that happens to all cut men. 

Circ causes ED.

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By Buster Marengo, December 18, 2006 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Emperor Hadrian had it right:  ANYONE who mutilates the genitals of a minor, or aids and abets therein, deserves the death penalty.  Do you know any “sane” man who would willingly donate HALF his own penile skin, according to scientific studies by Canadian pathologist John Taylor, to research?  No?  Neither do I.  So, IN AMERICA, why is SOMEONE ELSE allowed to do it TO him, even before the future man can utter the stricture “NO!”?  His blood-curdling screems say it loud enough for me, and I’m STILL screaming to deaf SLIME:  (doctors)  This depraved scum does not respect sensual manliness, especially the intrasexual, the basis for intersexualty.  They DO “understand” violence against helpless victims AND lawsuits.  For a complex of reasons, most men are not complaining, so legislators are ignoring the question:  Should so-called religious “freedom” take legal precedence over what is blatant sex discrimination against secular infant boys, amputating their pleasure tissue?  Not in my book:  It is a violation of all ten moral rules - Elijah be damned ... Criminalize it and send emasculating mohels, who refuse to do only the Bris Shalom, and other coward infant rapist butchers.  From what I’ve seen, I would not even want them cutting my steak!  These and other motherfuckers impudently or righteously rob a FUTURE MAN (and his intimate partners) of the GOODFEELINGEST part of his DICK!  Read Maimonides, who talks of ‘QUIETING DOWN THE PENIS”.  The Army slogan is “BE ALL YOU CAN BE!”  That’s macho, not penis reduction!  A mother rat made a nest in my piano.  She carried hay through pedal ports, and even took pains to tear damper felt for her precious pups, NOT chew off their pricks!  I often wish I had had HER as MY mother!  Because she failed to protect me with her life, I celebrate her and her husband’s murder as a joyous holiday, and look forward to my own death, which I am planning, as the only way to finally end my deep personal shame over my “flaw”; sexual mutilation cuts deep to the core.  Imagine what I would do to “Dr” Randall M O’Rourke, who tightened the Gomco clamp, without anaesthesia, crushing the best part of my body, that low-life son-of-a-bitch!  I hereby declare:  The hippocratic oath applies to all physicians, especially to paediatricians and above all to surgeons.  The former disclaim themselves as treating a FUTURE MAN, and the latter are not savvy in penile physiology during sex, unless they happen to have sex with men.  These last points are important…especially that LIMITING PLEASURE in another person is just as IMMORAL as causing PAIN, DISABLING, not doing one’s duty to protect, and so on, and the importance of having personel who are experts in the penis as a sex organ by virtue of their considerable experience with both mutilated and intact specimens.  Pleasure is NOT some dispensable luxury:  It is a dire necessity for survival.  If this approach be taken by enough American MEN, American male genital MAYHEM would end overnight.  Yeah, emasculated American men, who do nothing about it, many themselves denying it, save recommit the crime of reducing their innocent sons’ priceless penile tissues by one half, are seen as not leaders anomg the most powerful nation, but as ridiculous and pitiful dead-dicks, by four-fifths of the world’s males, who are normal real men.  May everyone currently perpetuating this unconscionable horror be stopped and dealt with harshly!  Despite intact penile immunology, and impractical abstinence notwithstanding, by causing diminished penile function, especially feeling, in the long run, a man is thereby ever LESS likely to seek or tolerate a condom, still the best means of prevention.  Even the embarrassing plight of desperate officials cannot erase that fact.  Better fire them and hire new blood than mutilate.  FINALLY willing to give it a go, they glance down finding their feeling already minimized to save some dastardly unseen face. 

Buster Marengo

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By Hugh7, December 18, 2006 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What the headlines aren’t saying is that (if the study were flawless) it would take 56 circumcisions to prevent one HIV transmission per year in Uganda. It should be obvious that education in safe sex, treating ulcerative diseases and preventing malaria would be much more cost-effective.

(If other things were equal - there were no genetic factors, the prevailing methods of transmission were the same, it was the same strain of HIV - the figure for the US would be 380, just because of the lower incidence of HIV. Each of those factors means it would actually be much higher.)

The people with pro-circumcision studies are fond of running to the media. After they have been critiqued in peer-reviewed journals they look much less impressive, but by that time the meme “Circumcision prevents XXX” is on its way, and the rebuttals never get the same publicity. This has already happened to last month’s “circumcision prevents sexually transmitted diseases” study.

Some of the flaws with these studies at are spelt out at

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By Outraged, December 15, 2006 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m glad to see that everyone seems to be in agreement concerning this nonsense. I agree with all the previous posts and would like to add a comment. There seems to be some animosity toward women for having boys circumcised. I have two sons and did not circumcise them. However, when the time came to make that decision it was THEIR FATHERS who wanted it done (so little Johnny would be like them). It was a battle. I received alot of flack from doctors as well.  They tried to convince me it was “terribly unsanitary” and that my sons would have “problems”. Now I’m not a man, and how MUCH of a difference it actually makes, I can never know. So, I researched it at the time and couldn’t find any validity for circumcision for health reasons. That traditionally it was performed as a part of various religious rituals. And the best medical researchers can say on the topic is: They THINK “maybe” it could be good thing to do for sanitary reasons.

Gee whiz, I think MAYBE those strange berries aren’t poisonous, eat one. I think MAYBE you’ll beat that speeding car across the street, RUN! I think MAYBE thats not a turd on the floor, pick it up…...

After everything was said and done, I decided against it.  I looked at it this way. If there was a problem we could always have it done then. If there weren’t any problems, then my sons could make up their own mind about it. It is their body after all and it ISN’T A NECESSARY MEDICAL PROCEDURE.

I also have six sisters who encountered the very same attitudes. Some capitulated ONCE. Some said OK as long as Daddy stays right next to “Johnny” while the procedure is performed (they didn’t get any takers). Others were just like me.  After investigating it, NO WAY.  So for the record, there are women who care.  In the era and place that we said no, trust me, IT WAS A BATTLE.

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By David Wilton, December 14, 2006 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am utterly disappointed you have highlighted these two studies that purport to show circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection. This, as you may know, is a highly controversial set of studies that many in the human rights sphere have been following. Many progressives oppose neonatal circumcision and distinguish what these studies are trying to do from the ongoing unethical circumcision of infants around the world.

Even so, many in the intactivism community have raised issues regarding the contradictory message that circumcision and these studies send out. The proponents insist circumcision acts as an imperfect vaccine, yet also insist that condoms must still be used. Every study on HIV infection and circumcision, whether observational or randomized, has exhibited a consistent downward trend in efficacy. One must question whether we are a mere study or two away from being able to conclude circumcision provides no benefit.

Moreover, the elephant in the room is that surgical interventions are a last resort, not a first. The problems with HIV infection and care in Africa have everything to do with development issues and poverty. A study from last summer suggested that clean water for post-coital washing would provide the same level of protection as the purported advantages of circumcision. And clean water has many more uses to recommend it. Yet where are the cries for clean water for Africa in the HIV/AIDS community?

These studies were undertaken by researchers eager to carve out a niche for themselves in the slow-moving HIV research arena where desperation and disappointment have been the mood for nearly a decade now. No new breakthroughs since HAART* was introduced in 1996 have been forthcoming. The world is only vaguely paying attention in the face of galloping events, such as Iraq, global warming, nuclear proliferation, and economic upheaval, that threaten to overtake us all.

It is easy to lose sight of our ethics in the face of overwhelming political criminality. However, Truthdig should not fall into this trap simply because it is overwhelmed by bigger events.

I read Truthdig regularly. One of the attractions of sites like this is the ability to slip into a story without running the bullsh*t detector in hyper-drive. But I see that no matter what source one consults some BS will get through and the detector must remain on. I only ask you make it a minor problem instead of a major one for your regular readers.

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By Captain, December 14, 2006 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The gullibility of Americans apparently knows no bounds. Of course circumcision would impact the rate at which such individuals would contract STDs - why not hack off the whole middle wicket, that’d really do the trick!  While you’re at it why not remove the ears from all new born children to prevent ear infections as well. 

It’s such a monumental shame that we still have this type of propaganda and flawed study promoting such a brutal and sadistic act - and for what, to appease the religious loonies who think sex is somehow “sinful” or because of the ignorance of the American masses?

If only parents would take into consideration the level of physical pain, mental trauma and the lifetime of limited sexual functioning that results from this tribal act.  Why not pause and think about it?: One minute this beautiful baby is growing inside this cozy, dark womb and the next minute he’s popped out into this horribly bright room filled with frightening noise and put into an incubator.  Within a matter of days someone attacks his penis with a knife - almost always done without anesthetic, but the anesthetic itself would require a needle stuck in your penis. The pain is so excruciating that the little boy often passes out. Infants often go into shock from the pain, but the ridiculous human mind in denial has claimed they are “sleeping!” It is quite likely that the babies themselves - most certainly traumatized - are acutely aware that their mothers have “abandoned” them and failed to protect them against a vicious and despicable attack. Frankly, when I think about the suffering this horrid behavior causes to defenseless babies, I feel overwhelmed by nausea, and my heart feels sore.

And, of course, HIV as a cause of AIDS is one of the biggest scandals in modern medical history.  Do you all really believe HIV is a proven cause of AIDS and that there is an AIDS epidemic in Africa?  Think again.

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By Kellina, December 14, 2006 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is bad science. There is a problem with the conclusion of this study:

1) the men weren’t randomly assigned to be circumcised or not (it is possible that men who are circumcised differ in other ways related to the outcome variable, contraction of AIDs);

2) even if they were randomly assigned to condition, it is entirely possible that circumcised men had less sex and/or fewer partners than intact men, because removal of the foreskin (and all its attendant nerve endings) is reportedly associated with reduced sexual pleasure.

By the logic of this study, we should also circumcise women, too, but I bet no one would recommend that. Circumcision for prophylactic purposes is likely removing women’s breasts so that they never get breast cancer. Yeah, it “works,” but at what cost? Circumcision is irreversible, painful, and has dramatic repercussions for the sexual functioning of the man and his partner(s). What gives?

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By Bob, December 14, 2006 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Unbelievable, we are still pushing this dangerous and painful male genital mutilation on the world; now under the guise of reducing HIV (as in the past it was pushed on us for everything from cleanliness to the prevention of Cervical Cancer).  What if the mutilation were against females?  Would it be so widely accepted?  Circumcision is a barbaric religious custom that was forced on the American public by the medical establishment.  It serves only two purposes; to make all men conform to a certain look and to pad the doctor’s pockets.  For infant male children, it is a form of child abuse and for adults it is dangerous and disfiguring.  Stop this madness!

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