Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NY Times on HIV & Circumcision

On December 14, the New York Times featured a front page article (may require NY Times login) about how male circumcision reduces the risk of males acquiring HIV by about 50%, and the risk of transmitting HIV by 30%, during heterosexual (penis-in-vagina) intercourse.

I don't think this topic requires too much more commentary, beyond what I said in my 8/15 post about the World AIDS Conference presentation on the same study. Please, before you try to get your teenager circumcised, read the previous post.

I will point out one piece of information in the NY Times article that may be confusing, one that is infuriating, and one nugget of wisdom from hamakotaco.

The confusing bit: The NY Times article reports that circumcision "...does nothing to prevent spread by anal sex or drug injection, ways in which the virus commonly spreads in the United States. " The article does not mention that heterosexual (penis-in-vagina) contact is also a very common mode of transmission in the U.S. - according to some interpretations, the most common mode. Also, the study that this article is based on did not examine anal sex transmission at all, so if circumcision did have some effect on transmission/acquisition of HIV, this study wouldn't have found it.

The infuriating bit: Also from the NY Times article, "Dr. Mark Dybul, executive director of President Bush’s $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, said in a statement that his agency 'will support implementation of safe medical male circumcision for H.I.V./AIDS prevention' if world health agencies recommend it." Yet, last I heard, Bush continues to withhold funding from agencies around the world who provide condoms and other non-abstinence-based interventions. He would rather fund circumcision that condoms. Is he trying to bring about the apocalypse? Oh, wait ... Well, that's for another post.

And finally, an exceedingly clever point from hamakotaco, guaranteed to win your arguments with any conservative men in your life: "Yes, well, chopping off your entire penis would also reduce the risk of getting HIV, but that doesn't make it a good idea." True that, my friend. True that.

1 comment:

Liora said...

isn't it also in an article somewhere that circumcision can damage the pleasure nerves at the tip of the penis making sex just that little bit less enjoyable?

less enjoyable sex + less latex available = less abortion

is that the equation being used here? Kill three birds with one stone the whole country's that much closer to enabling religion and government as one?

anyway

so maybe the next choice to vote on during elections will be whether circumcision will be forced on all men to stop the AIDS virus.

love,
Liora