There’s more to circumcision than just a religious ritual. It is actually a cheap, safe and lifelong protection for your newborn boy against AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Circumcision can also help prevent penile cancer and various bacterial infections.
Based on studies, the removal of foreskin in circumcision provided a fifty percent reduction in HIV transmission, a threefold reduction in human papilloma virus (HPV) infections in female partners of uncircumcised men, and lower rates of syphilis and Chlamydia. These diseases are among the leading causes of sterility among male teenagers.
Circumcision among infants is roughly 10 times more likely to prevent urinary tract infections and the high fevers associated with them. Circumcision’s potential role in AIDS prevention is evident in Africa and encouraged the New York City Health Department to consider outreach programs among gay adult men and drug addicts.
Historically, the ancient Egyptians practiced circumcision to prevent itch and infections in the foreskin. Jews incorporated the practice as part of their religious rituals. Some fundamentalists even thought that circumcision would be effective in preventing masturbation — an act which is considered a sin in many churches and congregations.
However, over the years, circumcision in the U.S. has gained more acceptance as a scientifically proven health procedure. Although it is still perceived by some quarters to be a form of mutilation, the said procedure has come a long way in terms of its acceptability as a form of disease prevention. It’s impossible to prove that circumcision diminishes sexual pleasure since a clipped boy will never know what it would have felt like to have a foreskin. However, those who were circumcised as adults found no difference in their sex lives.
Still, many parents in the United States still doubt the need to have their male children circumcised. Even Medicaid won’t pay for circumcision in 16 states. Statistics show a decline in the number of boys circumcised at birth from 65 to 55 percent between 1993 and 2003. The Medicaid coverage and other challenges to circumcision can be attributed at least in part to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) stance in a 1999 position paper that says despite “potential medical benefits” the data were not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.
According to Dr. Edgar Schoen, a leading proponent of circumcision and chief of pediatrics at Kaiser-Permanente Healthcare for 24 years, the evidence that circumcision prevents HIV transmission has been solid since the late 1980s. Even Harvard medical anthropologist Daniel Halperin, Ph.D., agreed with Schoen.
While the medical community continues to be skeptical, the most convincing studies emerged after the AAP statement. Three trials in which Kenyan and Ugandan men were randomly selected to receive circumcision were halted when it became clear that circumcision helped prevent transmission of HIV. This prompted the United Nations World Health Organization to announce that male circumcision should be added to the list of interventions that can help prevent HIV.
Based on the study, the foreskin is susceptible to attack by HIV and often develops cracks or tears that may lead to bacterial infection such as syphilis and chancroid. These bacterial infections are very common in uncircumcised men, providing a gateway for HIV.