January 9, 2005 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Is circumcision an AIDS weapon? To cut or not to cut? Does circumcision prevent the transmission of HIV? It was deemed "An acceptable strategy for HIV prevention" in Bostwana and a study looking at the magnitude of females who get infected with HIV/AIDS/STDs through circumcision
posted by halekon (20 comments total)

I thought this issue had already been resolved and that there was no significant support for the idea.

Do we do everything that might impact slightly or do we encourage comprehensive education (including abstinence) in these countries as well as our own?

As far as circumcision, I kind of wish fewer people would do it as it gives my bris a little less meaning.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:14 AM on January 9, 2005

Please make a distinction between "circumcision", the removal of the penile foreskin, and those far more horrible genital mutilations some cultures perform on girls. Foreskin defenders abound, but my "routine" circumcision has not prevented me from enjoying sex -- and I doubt the MD who did it used a filthy piece of broken glass.

It's on issues like Female Genital Mutilation that my multicultural open-mindedness breaks down. I don't much cotton to chopping off people's noses or hands either.
posted by davy at 11:07 AM on January 9, 2005

You have got to be kidding me.

Post-natal abortion is also quite effective in preventing the spread of AIDS.
posted by RockCorpse at 11:20 AM on January 9, 2005

Davy akes an important point- it should be noted for anybody who isn't already aware, "Female Circumcision" is a poor euphemism for what is more commonly known as Clitoridectomy and infibulation. It has nothing to do with male circumcision- if it did, the male equivalent would be hacking the penis off with a rusty razor and sewing up the incision. I am not turning this into a thread about male circumcision- I will withhold my opinions about it entirely.

I am mostly for cultural moral relativity, but this is an abomination.

If it does prevent HIV, it's probably because the women are sufficiently mutilated that intercourse is unfeasible.

That said, shooting rapists is also an acceptable strategy. And education, before that becomes necessary.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:35 AM on January 9, 2005

Oh no, another female 'circumcision' thread ... take cover!

(that's right, scare quotes, cause it's just plain wrong .. I got nothing against the normal version for guys though)
posted by milovoo at 11:45 AM on January 9, 2005

I am entirely in favor of cultural diversity, righ up to the point where it infringes on the rights of the individual. Female genital mutulation (FGM) is definately a violation of the rights of the individual. The need for diverse cultures does not trump human rights.
posted by sotonohito at 11:45 AM on January 9, 2005

On a point related to the first two links (and ignoring the third) I wonder if condoms are sized more for circumcised or uncircumcised males. Some company should make a product line specifically for one or the other. I suspect that male vanity is one of the safer things to invest in.

Oh heck, why not make both - circu-max® and naturalong® brand condoms, sized to accommodate your style of foreskin.
posted by milovoo at 12:13 PM on January 9, 2005

Don't cut off part of your kid's penis without his consent, mmmkay?
posted by driveler at 12:33 PM on January 9, 2005

milovoo: Unless you want to go around wearing a condom on a flacid penis what difference does it make? Erect cut and uncut pretty much look the same, don't they?

"Dude. Not cool. Chopping off wee-wees is NOT COOL!" -- Eric Cartman.
posted by AstroGuy at 12:39 PM on January 9, 2005

Circumcised or not, the only way to prevent sexually-transmitted HIV is to practise safe sex. Its irresponsible to even suggest that this "helps". It just provides an excuse for people to practise unsafe sex, and tell themselves (or their partners) that they are OK because they are circumcised/insert other excuse here. Or maybe I'm just ultra-cynical this morning.
posted by Joh at 12:50 PM on January 9, 2005

milovoo: Unless you want to go around wearing a condom on a flacid penis what difference does it make? Erect cut and uncut pretty much look the same, don't they?

I admit to not having comparatively studying penises all that much, but I seem to remember seeing that an uncircumcised penis still has a little bunch of extra skin at the base of the foreskin when erect. As for the products, it doesn't have to make a real difference, just the perception would be enough to increase sales.
posted by milovoo at 12:50 PM on January 9, 2005

Give me proof or give me...
posted by gorgor_balabala at 1:39 PM on January 9, 2005

Male circumcision might help in Africa, where the most (socially) damaging AIDS transmission point is sex between a husband and his wife, which is, if for no other reason than the reproductive imperative, not going to be "all safe, all the time."

Marital relations aren't exactly high on the epidemiological hit list for American AIDS prevention efforts, so it definitely might have the effect that Joh worries about here.
posted by MattD at 7:30 PM on January 9, 2005

Saying circumcision fights AIDs makes about as much sense as claiming penectomies do.

Guess what -- if you amputate people's ears you'll have less boxers getting cauliflower ears.
posted by glider at 10:06 PM on January 9, 2005

Wow, did anyone read the above links? This is a public health issue where there may be evidence that circumcised males are less likely to be infected with the aids virus than uncircumcised males. If this does pan out, there is no question that circumcision is a potential valid tool in the battle against aids. (alongside education, abstinence, condoms, etc..) No one claims that its a panacea, but in such a massive crisis, every little bit may help.
posted by jba at 2:05 AM on January 10, 2005

This is a "cultural moral relativity" gateway issue. We start acknowledging that people should mutlilate babies, and pretty soon we are kickin' it with old Thomas Jefferson and trying to get everyone some human rights.

posted by ewkpates at 7:16 AM on January 10, 2005

Of course, all the studies I've seen that show male circumcision makes a difference in HIV transmission fail to account for social-economic differences between the groups of people in Africa that tend to be circumicised. That is, in the area the studies, it's the more well-off and more likely to be married Muslims that tend to be circumcised. There have been all kinds of other possible factors that aren't controled for in those studies.
posted by skynxnex at 8:49 AM on January 10, 2005

"the only way to prevent sexually-transmitted HIV is to practise safe sex"

Sorry, safe sex is just safe-er sex. Everybody should know this by now.
posted by pmbuko at 1:06 PM on January 10, 2005

All circumcision is mutilation.
posted by jackiemcghee at 12:04 AM on January 11, 2005

All circumcision is mutilation.

so is ear-piercing, technically. There are obviously degrees of "mutilation" and removing the foreskin, while unnecessary, is simply not comparable to removing the clitoris (that would be like lopping off the entire head of the penis). Also, about 1% of uncircumcised boys will need to have the foreskin removed at puberty due to phimosis.
posted by mdn at 6:39 AM on January 11, 2005

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