On December 13,
2006, the U.S. National
Institutes of Health (NIH) declared that male
reduces the risk of acquiring the HIV virus. Now,
some physicians and news media
outlets are promoting circumcision as a possible
"vaccine" for AIDS. This question and answer page is an
attempt to dispel the myths and assumptions surrounding these
reports by presenting the facts.
How did male
circumcision and AIDS first become linked?
between circumcision and AIDS began in 1986, when the
late California urologist and circumcision promoter
Aaron J. Fink proposed that the
keratinization damage caused by male circumcision
prevent HIV infection. A number of studies on the
subject have been conducted in Africa since that time.
circumcision actually help prevent HIV/AIDS?
male circumcision and AIDS
are conflicting. Two studies completed in 2006 in
Kenya and Uganda concluded that male circumcision
had a 48% - 53% protective effect against HIV over a 14
month period, and an earlier published
Auvert Study (criticized for having
methodology flaws and
overly optimistic conclusions) found that circumcision reduced HIV
transmission in South African men by 63% over a period
of 21 months. The multi-country
Mishra study concluded that circumcision may
actually increase transmission of the AIDS virus,
however, which is what
many earlier studies found.
Brewer Study published in
March 2007, also concluded that
circumcision in Kenya, Lesotho, and Tanzania
the transmission of AIDS,
Connolly study published in
November 2008 found that circumcised men in
South Africa are just as likely to be HIV-positive as
female circumcision and AIDS?
relationship between female circumcision and AIDS has
also been studied, with similar conflicting results. The
Stallings Study found that female circumcision
reduces transmission of the AIDS virus, while other
studies have shown that it
America's high rate of male circumcision helped prevent
HIV/AIDS in the USA?
States has one of the
highest rates of male circumcision and also one of the
highest rates of HIV infection in the developed
world, suggesting that
not helping. Conversely,
and Japan have some of the lowest rates of
circumcision and also some of the lowest rates of
HIV/AIDS. In Australia, the
AFAO has now concluded
male circumcision has no role in the Australian HIV
be allowed to undergo circumcision?
If a fully
informed consenting adult feels that circumcision is
right for him, then that's a personal choice he should
be allowed to make.
In practice, though, most
circumcisions are forced
onto others against their will, and even voluntary
adult circumcision is likely to do
harm than good.
children? Should doctors be allowed to
circumcise infants and boys if future studies conclusively show
that male circumcision helps prevent AIDS over the long
are granted permission to cut off part of a child's
functional genital anatomy because it might help
prevent a disease later in life, then there is no limit to
the number of body parts that they can amputate. They
could argue that child mastectomy would wipe out breast
cancer, for example, and that partial castration would
reduce the incidence of testicular cancer. Circumcision
of infants and boys for any reason other than a clear,
compelling, and immediate medical need is sexual
ever begin promoting female circumcision as a way to
help prevent AIDS?
It's a very
real possibility. If physicians are successful in
convincing governments to allow boys and infants to be
forcefully circumcised as part of the war on AIDS, it
may only be a matter of time before other doctors use
Stallings Study to justify circumcising girls for
the same reason.