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Circumcision and HIV AIDS

In African News… Zimbabwe has decided to fight the scourge of HIV AIDS by ensuring that their cabinet ministers are all circumcised. In fact they have quite the drive on circumcising men at the moment and according to this article are hoping to reach at least 5MIL people through their campaign.

Now I understand that there have been some studies on this since 2005 and the hypothesis was even featured on the National Geographic website. The scary thing I find is that people would actually sign up for a study like this. It’s like “OK people, we will chop little bits off you and expect you to go out and have unprotected sex and YES you have an excellent chance of contracting the AIDS virus. So who’s with us??” I can only assume that these people were paid huge amounts of money and like my Dad says if your family is starving you would do most everything to provide for them. But this is not the common cold we are discussing. It is HIV AIDS for Pete’s sake!

According to a fact sheet by the CDC in Feb 2008:

Compared with the dry external skin surface, the inner mucosa of the foreskin has less keratinization (deposition of fibrous protein), a higher density of target cells for HIV infection (Langerhans cells), and is more susceptible to HIV infection than other penile tissue in laboratory studies. The foreskin may also have greater susceptibility to traumatic epithelial disruptions (tears) during intercourse, providing a portal of entry for pathogens, including HIV. In addition, the microenvironment in the preputial sac between the unretracted foreskin and the glans penis may be conducive to viral survival.

So, I understand that the risk is reduced for circumcised men but why take the chance? Even I know the virus is spread by body fluids and clearly there are fluids involved in sexual intercourse. We should not allow people to think that circumcision is enough. Yes snipping bits off might help the man but if you are still having unprotected sex you are simply being irresponsible.

Please understand that due to my age this is a very uncomfortable subject but some things just need to be said.

Condoms people condoms! 

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Xe'nedra

Xe'nedra

Xe'nedra is a pre-teen free thinker who can often be found with her nose in a book. She is an expert at rolling her eyes and making her parents sigh in exasperation. Skateboarding and golf is on her list of sporting activities and she would love to study Forensics or Medicine (which is better than being Gwen Stefani which was her aspiration at age 3). She also blogs as "The Sceptic Kid"

2 Comments

  1. June 27, 2012 at 7:37 pm —

    I’ve heard a lot of hearsay about male circumcision helping prevent the transmission of HIV. However, you’re right that simply using condoms would drastically decrease everyone’s chances. Now, if only we could get schools in the US to teach accurate information about condom effectiveness….

    There’s no reason that sex needs to be an uncomfortable subject for anyone, including teens/young adults. It’s simply a biological function that is necessary for reproduction. Most people have genitalia of some sort, and why we feel the need to erase that fact from our culture is really confusing.

    I want my kids (if) to be able to address these issues and talk about them freely. You get points in my book for tackling a sex-related issue, despite your age and how others try to keep you from knowing anything about it. /highfive

  2. June 28, 2012 at 10:53 am —

    It is painful to watch how some people take advantage of other people’s fear and misery to advance their own agenda.

    Circumcision is only in the agenda of religious organizations, which are trying to promote their own type of ritual mutilation, now that it is at risk of being considered unnecessary body damage and banned as such.

    Using the very real and very serious problem of AIDS to advance a religious or political agenda is disgusting. There are many other ways to prevent the spread of AIDS. Those ways are safer, cheaper and MUCH more effective. As you said: “Condoms, people. Condoms!”

    So the study shows that a circumcised penis MAY BE slightly less susceptible to infection because its skin is hardened… as a response to friction trauma due to constant exposure, having lost its protection. Great… let’s protect ourselves from AIDS with calloused skin. It is tough! Oh, we don’t know how much it really protects, but it promotes MY particular religious brand of genital mutilation, so who cares?

    It has a familiar sound to it, doesn’t it? “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:30).

    Ummm… Would this be in the very same Bible that orders people to circumcise their babies? Coincidence?

    Using people’s fears for your own ends, endangering their lives, instead of proposing REAL solutions. That fits my definition of evil.

    Condoms WORK. They prevent many diseases and unwanted pregnancies. They are safe and easy to use, cheap and available but… the Pope doesn’t like them. The Church doesn’t like them. Why? Just because.

    I could think they don’t really want to solve the problem, since they need that fear to keep using it in their favor, but I still don’t have such a dim view of mankind. I think it is more about close mindedness and stubbornness than cold calculation… but using people’s fear is still evil even if you didn’t cause that fear.

    About your discomfort… Talking about sex shouldn’t be uncomfortable. It is as much as natural body function as breathing. It is only taboo due to old traditions that have little reason behind them these days.

    Some people still think the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies is not to discuss sex at all, so teenagers won’t know about it. We all know how absurd that is. Teenagers sometimes know more about sex than their parents, and our biological programming is going to make SURE the impulse is there, whether it is discussed or not.

    Talking openly about sex actually REDUCES the risks these people fear. Talking about sex openly is the best way to prevent misinformation from having bad consequences. Lack of information is dangerous, as we skeptics know all too well.

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