Thursday, April 30, 2009

Circumcision Prevents Child Abduction

There are so many good health reasons to circumcise little boys that you don't really need to consider other reasons like religion, culture, family, and societal norms. But a lot of factors play into the growing support for universal male circumcision.

But this story provides one reason that I reject as an incentive to circumcise -- the prevention of child abduction. Turns out that in northern Uganda little boys are being abducted for child sacrifice. That's sick and a crime, and the perpetrators should be prosecuted. Parents in that region say that the abductors do not want circumcised boys (or those wearing earings), so more little boys are being circumcised to protect them from being abducted and killed.

Now I'm in favor of almost every reason you can conjure to circumcise males, but this one is totally unacceptable. Go after the criminals! Here's an excerpt from the story:

"Uganda: Circumcision, earrings deter child murder"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"More cases of child trafficking and abuse are being reported in the northern Ugandan districts of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader, according to officials. The region is mainly inhabited by an internally displaced population recovering from over a decade of war. . . . Recently, Uganda’s chief judge Benjamin Odoki urged the courts to pass tougher sentences for those involved in child abuse offenses. In the meantime, parents in the north have taken to circumcising their children and adorning them with earrings to deter would be perpetrators. "I hear that witchdoctors do not want circumcised children or those with earrings," Lukwayi Ayot, a local resident told IRIN. "I have decided to circumcise my two boys." Schools have embraced the practice too, said Ayot a local teacher. "We do not forbid any child from wearing earrings in school... to protect them."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

U.S. Marines Circumcise Filipino Boys But Not Americans

Today I saw this post in the Stars & Stripes, the U.S. Army newspaper. Turns out the Marine docs are circumcising 13 year old boys in the Phillipines. That, of course, is a good thing -- but here's my question. Why not circumcise American boys? If taxpayers in this country can pay to circumcise Filipino boys for free, shouldn't we at least offer this service to Americans who are footing the bill? Something is not right here. Read & comment below.

Marines provide safe circumcisions for Filipinos
Stars and Stripes Mideast edition, Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MANILA, Philippines — U.S. and Philippine military medical personnel are helping young men in the Philippines with a rite of passage: circumcision.

The troops are performing the procedure as part of their work in Balikatan — an annual bilateral training exercise that runs through Thursday.

During a Medical Civil Action Project on Friday, 13-year-old Joel Bangate underwent the procedure, according to a U.S. military news release.

According to the release, Philippine boys are usually between 10 and 13 years old when they decide to have the circumcision. When Joel learned that the procedure would be offered thanks to the Balikatan troops, the teen decided to take that option.

Professional circumcisions are available at medical facilities in the area, but in most impoverished areas, a village elder usually performs the procedure with a razor blade and without any stitches, according to the release. Boys traditionally sit in a cold bath for two hours to numb themselves while chewing guava leaves for minimal anesthetic. The boys spit the leaves onto the open wound, hoping to heal themselves, according to the release.

Philippine army Capt. William Recuenco — a surgeon — said the end result of the traditional procedure is often an infection.

During the MEDCAP, doctors used sterile instruments and an effective anesthetic and provided antibiotics.

"I have a lot to be thankful for," Joel said after his procedure, according to the release.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

American Academy of Pediatrics Statement on Circumcision We Hope to See

Somewhere circulating within the emails of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Task Force on Circumcision, there is a draft proposal updating the AAP's 1999 "neutral" stance on circumcision in light of the growing medical evidence in favor of male circumcision. You can call this a fictional wish-list, but we hope the AAP has the guts to issue a report something like this:

Task Force on Circumcision
American Academy of Pediatrics
Benefits of Male Circumcision Outweigh Risks
A Call to Universal Circumcision
Executive Summary

After a comprehensive review of the latest medical and scientific evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics concludes that all males should be circumcised, preferably at birth, as a matter of both personal medical well-being and general public health to protect themselves, their future sexual partners, and society as a whole from a number of debilitating, life-threatening, and costly diseases.

In 1999, the AAP declared that “scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision,” but we cautioned that “these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.” This position, reaffirmed in 2005, understandably left parents of newborn males in a quandary. While the medical benefits of circumcision were established, such as a substantial reduction in urinary tract infection, the evidence was not then compelling to recommend that every male be circumcised. Parents were left to draw their own conclusions, which meant that social, familial, and other non-medical concerns often took priority over health care in the decision-making process.

With substantial new scientific evidence over the last four years, the AAP now recommends that all newborn males be circumcised, and we encourage all public and private health insurers and medical providers to cover, promote, and establish efficacious ways to achieve universal male circumcision. We endorse routine neonatal circumcision, with all the appropriate analgesics to alleviate pain, and we recommend that all males, regardless of age, be circumcised. Circumcision not only confers life-long benefits on the male, but it also protects his female partners and society as a whole.

Among its other benefits, circumcision reduces a male’s chance of acquiring HIV by at least 50 percent, reduces his risk of acquiring HPV by 35 percent and spreading HPV to his female partners, reduces his chances of contracting Herpes Simplex Virus Type II by 28 percent, and reduces the likelihood of causing cervical cancer in his female partners. The AAP does not assert that circumcision eliminates these painful and costly medical scourges, but it will significantly reduce them. These health benefits to males and females far outweigh any risks posed by circumcision, and to suggest otherwise is to engage in a head-in-the-sand approach to science for political and non-medical reasons.

We recognize that the decision to circumcise children lies with the parent, so, consequently, just as with AAP-recommended vaccinations, an option not to circumcise must be made available. But the AAP concludes that sound science dictates the goal of universal male circumcision, regardless of the race, nationality, religion, age, or economic status of the male. A requirement by schools that all boys be circumcised before puberty is recommended, subject to exception for religious or deeply-held objection, or a rare medical necessity. But like the eradication of polio and measles through a policy of universal vaccination, the public health benefits of circumcision are best conferred when adopted by all.

This position in no way impugns the decision of many parents in recent years that left their sons uncircumcised. The decision not to circumcise was perfectly understandable, particularly in the context of the AAP’s former position. But medical science advances, and health care requirements must change with that evidence. Boys left uncircumcised, particularly as they become sexually active, increase their own risks and those with whom they are intimate. That is why the AAP encourages both public and private health insurers and health providers to establish cost-effective options to circumcise both young and older males. And we encourage parents of uncircumcised boys to take advantage of those options as quickly as possible.

Finally, we believe that the evidence for universal male circumcision is so compelling that the United States Government, through the Surgeon General, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and all other relevant agencies, needs to engage in a public information campaign and improve affordable access to circumcision for all American males of every age. Under the leadership of the World Health Organization, many other governments have taken such a pro-active lead. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges the U.S. Government to do the same. A country with the greatest medical scientists, practitioners, and institutions should once again take the lead on this critical public health mission.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Are Circumcision Advocates Psychologically Damaged?

Bereft of medical evidence -- now that the most recent scientific studies point to the health benefits of male circumcision -- the anti-circ crowd has taken to accusing those of us who promote a foreskin-free society as being psychologically "damaged" because of our circumcisions.

You've heard the whacky argument. The first premise is that everyone who promotes circumcision is circumcised. Now how the foreskin lovers know this is beyond me. Maybe there's an assumption that all American doctors and researchers are circumcised (clearly debatable), but it's not likely that our European counterparts are circumcised. Unless they are Muslim or Jewish (ah, yes, the Islamic/Zionist plot), foreign scientists are more likely to be uncircumcised than cut.

Moreover, the assumption is insulting to anyone who believes in the scientific method. The fact that one is circumcised ought not to lead to a biased result in an ethical evidence-based study, any more than the fact that one is uncircumcised should prejudice the results. Scientists follow the evidence -- not make things up because of their penile status.

The broader attack by the FLs ("foreskin lovers") is that the reason most males (at least in the USA) are pro-circumcision is that they have "never come to terms" with their own cut state. Circumcised males are, supposedly, deeply resentful of their clean-cut penis, so they "take it out" by wanting to circumcise everyone else. What a crock of BS! But read the comments posted by some of the FLs on my blog, and you will know this is what they believe.

Once again, the resort to ad hominem attacks on those who want a healthier society, healthier males, and healthier females through universal male circumcision only demonstrates, once again, how desperate the FLs have become. They are losing the debate on the merits of the argument, so they are doing what good debaters do. But it won't work -- not this time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Anti Circumcision Fanatics Are Getting Hysterical

Have you noticed how the anti-circumcision crowd is getting more and more hysterical, as the prophylactic value of circumcision grows with each new medical study?

What is it with these people? Science is science, and to name-call those whose medical evidence reaches a conclusion you don't like is Luddite medicine at its worse. You remember the Luddites, don't you? Decent enough people, I suppose, who during the Industrial Revolution didn't like the marvelous new inventions of the era took it upon themselves to destroy the good that modern science was delivering.

Today's anti circ crowd is just like that. They cling to the foreskin like it was some Holy Grail, denouncing every new study that shows circumcision to reduce the incidence of HIV, HPV, STDs, and a host of other ailments. These socalled "intactivists" use trash talk and hyperbole to disparage those of us who want to follow medical science to its logical conclusion -- a foreskin-free society where all males are circumcised, not only for their own good health, but also for those of their partners and society as a whole.

Even on this page, the anti circ fanatics try to turn my logical and reasonable call for mandatory circumcision into a Nazi-like dragging of adult males into some hospital room. I have never ever suggested that. Universal circumcision will be achieved by custom, law, and the good sense of people, heeding the doctors and scientists of the 21st Century. It will happen over time, as every young boy is circumcised before school age, just as we innoculate children today. But such is the hysteria of the anti circ crowd that, rather than debate the science, they trash the scientists and those who follow the science to its logical conclusion.

The only good news about the growing anti circumcision hysteria is that it's a sure sign that they are losing!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why is America Falling Behind Africa in Pushing Circumcision?

There is terrible irony when it comes to governmental action to promote the circumcision of males. The USA is falling behind, just at a time when its taxpayers are spending millions of dollars to circumcise African males as part of the international attack on the deadly HIV.

While governments in countries like Uganda and Kenya are actively promoting circumcision, the US government turns a blind eye to the growing number of uncircumcised males in America. Here's what Africa Science News reports about Kenya: "The government has entered into a massive campaign advocating for male circumcision to help in reducing the HIV burden in the country where last year, over 18,000 males were circumcised between the age of 15-49 and targets to circumcise at least 50,000 males per year during the drive."

Where is the leadership in the USA? This blog is devoted to an intelligent debate on the question of whether all males should be required to be circumcised for their own protection, that of their partners, and society as a whole. Even the tiny little country of Suriname is offering free circumcisions to encourage a 100% foreskin-free nation!

And in the Phillipines, the U.S. military actually assists in providing free circumcisions to the villages in a country where 100% circumcision is de facto, if not de jure, required. Why isn't the U.S. Army medical corps offering the same to American citizens who are footing the bill?

How ironic if other nations around the world heed the advice of American (and other) medical researchers before we do so ourselves. Ironic and tragic.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mandatory Circumcision: Is There Anything as Worthless as a Foreskin?

Most Americans have never seen a foreskin in person, and that's obviously a good thing.

Is there anything quite as worthless -- or dangerous to public health -- as a foreskin? Anti-circ zealots go on and on about the sensitive sexual nerves in a foreskin, trying to make clean-cut males feel like they're missing something. Even though studies have demonstrated that circumcised males have lost nothing, sexually, by discarding this ugly piece of skin, the anti-circs try mighty hard to convince otherwise.

What is really lost in circumcision is a disease-attracting piece of tissue that harbors HIV, HPV, STDs, and all sorts of other diseases. The foreskin is a breeding ground in its moist, warm, smegma-producing skin that hides the penis. Once upon a time, when men ran naked through the jungles, perhaps the foreskin helped protect the penis. But that day is long gone. Today it serves no useful function that isn't outweighed by the danger that lurks within. I can think of no other body part that has outlived its value -- and has now become a contributing factor to so many ailments -- as the foreskin.

Take a good look at this foreskin. Don't you agree it's time to promote universal circumcision to protect every male, his partners, and society as a whole?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mandatory Circumcision: Isn't It Time to Require Male Circumcision?

Just a little post to see how much interest there is in mandatory circumcision. Am I alone, or are there those who think that the medical evidence to circumcise males is now so substantial and overwhelming that all males should be required to be circumcised? Of course, as with all laws such as those that require vaccination, there ought to be an allowance for a religious reason not to circumcise or some unusual medical condition (i.e., hemophilia) that precludes a clean-cut penis. But doesn't public health now dictate that all males be circumcised?