Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Since all the hoopla about circumcision preventing HIV (African studies claimed it was up to 60% protection against female to male transmission) I have been finding a lot of the research pretty suspect. For example, the 2 main researchers in the African studies had tried for over a decade to prove their hypothesis here in the U.S. to no avail. We have a much higher rate of HIV than Europe and we have a majority circumcised adult male culture & Europe has a 95% intact population. Its also insulting to all of the American men that are dead b/c of AIDS that circumcision could have prevented HIV. No American man would trust that his lack of skin would keep him safe, yet we expect Africans to believe that and then, use that same logic to have one reason left to convince Americans to cut their new babies.

The complications of circumcision have always been underreported and I always thought the numbers were way too low. I have personally seen buried penis (scary!),bleeding problems, infections & adhesions in otherwise healthy babies that I know. So, a Ugandan paper finally is reporting on the real rates of complications and shedding light on the real reason these studies showed a higher rate of transmission in the intact group-----the cut group was too busy healing to go out on the town!

I think most medical studies done in Africa are the worst form of colonialism. I hate that people are used in this way and I wish more Americans, esp. doctors & nurses would think more deeply before using these flawed studies to back up recommending surgery on perfectly healthy babies. Haven't we gotten past the point in medicine where we amputate healthy tissue to prevent disease?

As annoying as it is to cut & paste the link, I highly recommend it, I try & try & blogger never makes links work for me!


Mark Lyndon said...

The research is very suspect. Not one of the much-trumpeted studies was finished, despite the protective effect appearing to decline well below the oft-reported 60-65%, and several of the subjects disappearing. The fact that one study described circumcision as "comparable to a vaccine of high efficacy" seems to show clear bias. They appear to have been seeking a certain result.

There are also seven African countries where men are more likely to be HIV+ if they've been circumcised: Rwanda, Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, and Tanzania. If circumcision really worked against AIDS, this just wouldn't happen. We now have people calling circumcision a "vaccine" or "invisible condom", and viewing circumcision as an alternative to condoms.

ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery will cost African lives, not save them.

Something is very wrong here. These people aren't interested in fighting HIV, but in promoting circumcision (or sometimes anything-but-condoms), and their actions will cost lives. I know how serious a charge that is, and I stand by it.

Circumcised male virgins are more likely to be HIV+ than intact male virgins, as the operation sometimes infects men.

The latest news is that circumcised HIV+ men are more likely to transmit the virus to women than intact HIV+ men (even after the healing period is over). Eight additional women appear to have been infected during that study, solely because their husbands were circumcised.

Female circumcision seems to protect against HIV too btw, but we wouldn't investigate cutting off women's labia, and then start promoting that.

Anonymous said...

You both make good points - let's hope some sanity creeps into the discussion of male circumcision as a possible solution for HIV.

clara said...

Mark, thank you so much for writing. It helps to have someone who knows a lot more about this than I do to add your knowledge. I appreciate it!

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I'm just a mom in the world. A crunchy Catholic mama of 6 trying to make sense of it all and stay positive. 5 boys here & 1 in heaven. One awesome man who I get to grow old with. I help new moms breastfeed. I`m happy. I don`t go to shows or dance clubs every night but I would if I could. Where`s the nanny? When I see her she`s SO fired! One of my boys is super sweet and sensitive, another one is a holy terror. I learn a ton from all of them daily. Like Nigella says, as any parent of small children knows,there comes a point in the day where you can`t go any further without a drink! I love cocktail hour. I`d like nothing more than to be with my family and some good friends surrounded by tropical plants drinking a margarita listening to the Eagles. I don`t care about trendy, I like that grungy 70`s vibe.