Mindy wrote a new post, Skepchick Sundaylies! Gift Guides, Circumcision, and Dealing with Holiday Stress, on the site Skepchick 5 years, 8 months ago
This will be long, and I’m getting ready to make a copypasta just to avoid typing it every time I see ‘circumcision prevents AIDS’ stories.
I’m wondering why the CDC is recommending circumcision. Most of the articles promoting it these days are no longer in high-impact medical journals. Mostly because the early studies were never replicated. But also…there were a couple scandals related to it, if I’m not mistaken. Robert Bailey, for instance, didn’t tell patients if they seroconverted. In addition, the studies were often cut short, pardon the pun, before they were completed, because ‘the results were so dramatic we decided it would be unethical’ not to offer the control group circumcision.
But the most obvious scandal is all the times Daniel Halperin cited or promoted sites, such as Circlist and the Gilgal Society (whose webmaster is currently serving time), that were really just thinly-veiled porn. Including people lamenting that stories involving children were ‘merely’ fictional. I know, I know, Rule 34, no exceptions and all, but that’s just disgusting. Halperin also claims in his book to have come up with the idea that limiting your number of sexual partners prevents STDs. Seriously.
On top of all this, they’re preaching to the converted: 88% of white men and 79% of black men in the US are circumcised. Then again, they promote circumcision to prevent AIDS in parts of sub-Saharan Africa where 100% of men are circumcised, so I must wonder, what planet are they living on?
Finally, there are some weird, ex culo assertions in their circumcision recommendations. Why would circumcising infants be safer? Anyone? Anybody?
I seriously doubt that anyone would spend a moment considering circumcision as a disease prevention strategy except as a means of continuing an existing tradition. Think how we could make breast cancer a thing of the past by routinely performing mastectomies on pre-adolescent girls?
Pro-circ arguments are always justifications for not stopping it. If the practice weren’t already entrenched, the idea would be laughed away on sight.
And suggesting that circumcision is ‘cosmetic’ is pretty absurd as well. Oddly, I was born with a facial hemangeoma, which I still have, though I was circumcised as a matter of routine. An internal portion of my hemangeoma blinded my left eye by the time I was seven.
Sounds about right. There’s another thing going on, though: Most AIDS patients in developed countries are men who have sex with men. The fact that two stigmatized groups have such a large intersection increases the stigma for both.
Of course, I would say it’s more important to get medicine to people who need it instead of wasting your money giving woo to people who don’t because stigma.