Is Male Circumcision A Solution to the African AIDS Crisis?
December 1, 2002 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Is Male Circumcision A Solution to the African AIDS Crisis? The United States Agency for International Development has sponsored some hopeful research suggesting that wider availability of male circumcision could substantially reduce AIDS tranmission in Africa. Contrary to worries that male circumcision would be viewed as a culturally imperialist intrusion into African traditions, public health surveys have found surprising unfulfilled demand for circumcision among African men.
posted by jonp72 (7 comments total)
The research has not yet been done to substantiate this as a safe protective procedure, according to this link.

What I would caution against, in the light of the trauma which occurs even in this so-called 'minor' surgery, is the law of unintended consequences: as can be seen from this post earlier on, governments may act to mobilise whole populations for the 'public good', but the social and medical effects, in underfunded and undertrained services, can be the exacerbation of existing problems. I would particularly worry about sterile conditions and cross-infectivity, if that is the correct term.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:22 PM on December 1, 2002

Yeah... And we should chop off boobs to prevent breast cancer.

Leave people's bodies alone.
posted by EmoChild at 9:43 PM on December 1, 2002

I'm not sure if I get why it's supposed to cut down on HIV transmission. Is it the age-old and dubious hygine arguement? Was that what was in the "informational session" anyway?

I understand doing it or having it done for spiritual reasons but I don't see how it could possibly help here.
posted by wobh at 9:46 PM on December 1, 2002

IIRC, as I read somewhere else, it's likely to be the toughening of the skin on the glans which makes female-to-male transmission less likely [if it helps at all].

So, I wonder, seeing as how the figures seem to show that Africa is the only region where female victims outnumber males, how will this help them?
posted by dash_slot- at 9:54 PM on December 1, 2002

yes - I read the reason that circusized males are less likely to get STDs is because the skin on the head of the penis is "tougher". since it's exposed to the elements all day, the head on circumsized guys is much tougher, and therefor much harder for little nicks and scratches to develop. those little nicks and scratches on the head of the penis (sometimes caused by intercourse) form an easy way for disease and whatnot to enter the bloodstream and infect the guy.
posted by cyberbry at 10:25 PM on December 1, 2002

I'm not clear on this and the linked article didn't help much.

How is circumcision going to reduce the risk of abrasion? Regardless of whether it's hooded or not the vulnerable tissue is exposed on an erect penis during sex, the risk of a 'nick' seems pretty much the same at this point.

It seems to me that this more likely a statistical anomaly resulting from cultural differences in the circumcised vs. uncircumcised populations.
posted by cedar at 10:55 PM on December 1, 2002

Does all of this assume that condoms are not being worn in most situations? If so then the whole 'pro-circumcision' argument seems absurd. Imagine if condoms were rarely worn in non-monogamous sexual encounters here in N.A.(please tell me this isn't so...) and we were arguing about circumcision as an effective control. Circumcision may well prove to reduce the rate of infection by 50% or more(but as of yet this link appears unproven and no mechanism of effect has been proved...) but if unprotected sex is the norm this particular remedy seems desperate to say the least.
posted by nasim at 11:41 PM on December 1, 2002

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