Monday, November 30, 2009

Are Uncircumcised Fathers Most Likely to Circumcise -- or Not?

Here's a question worth pondering. Are uncircumcised fathers more likely to circumcise their sons than circumcised fathers are to leave their sons uncircumcised?

My gut says that, as the medical evidence grows on the health value of circumcision, more and more uncircumcised dads are saying, hey, I want what's best for my son -- and that means a healthy, clean-cut penis from the start of life.

Is there any empirical evidence for this supposition?

I have blogged earlier that there is nothing more admirable -- and no one more deserving the title of FATHER -- than an uncircumcised dad who gives his newborn the gift of circumcision. There is a special place in Heaven for these men who recognize that just because they have a foreskin is no reason for their sons to be so afflicted, especially when the chances are much greater in the 21st century that a foreskin will increase a male's chance of HIV, STD, HPV, and other diseases.

Are there circumcised men who leave their sons with a foreskin prone to disease? Of course, there must be some who are taken in by the anti-circ propaganda and a few who have developed a psychological problem over being clean-cut. But, once again, my gut says that most circumcised dads want their sons to enjoy the healthy penises that they have -- to say nothing of the aesthetic and social reasons to circumcise.

In my view, circumcising your son to "look like" you is no more valid than leaving your son uncircumcised to "look like" you. The best reason for all fathers, regardless of their own circumcision status, to circumcise their sons is that it is in the child's best health interests. That's all you need to do the right thing!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Circumcision -- A Reason to Give Thanks on Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving Day in America -- I know Canada celebrates it earlier and I don't know about other countries -- I am grateful for circumcision, a very minor procedure that has a major impact on the health of so many.

I am thankful I live in a country where the right of every parent to circumcise is both maintained and encouraged. It is true that a very very small minority of fanatics is trying to take that right away, but freedom to raise your children in a healthy way is inherent in American values. As long as parents are guaranteed those rights, circumcision will be as American as the pumpkin pie we eat today. Every baby boy has the right to be circumcised, clean-cut, and disease-free, and I give thanks that America will always be a circumcised country.

I am thankful for all the US doctors who work hard to produce the scientific studies that support universal circumcision. I am thankful for the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics for resisting the absurd claims of foreskin lovers. I hope both the CDC and AAP can resist political pressure from these few and declare, once and for all, that every male should be circumcised.

I am thankful for all of you -- whether pro or anti-circ -- for engaging in this debate in a positive manner. I hope this blog has been a positive contribution to the ongoing debate. As long as you enjoy it and use it, I'll keep posting.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Africans Show America How to Implement Universal Circumcision

While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, to say nothing of the U.S. government, dithers over whether to do the obvious -- embrace universal circumcision of all males -- African nations are showing western nations exactly the way to do it.

The latest news comes out of Kenya, which hopes to achieve 100% foreskin-free country by 2013. Under a news article just issued by IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Kenyan government is doing exactly what the United States government ought to do.

The article is headlined: "The Million Man Cut." And that, of course, expresses the goal -- to circumcise one million uncircumcised males by 2013. According to this article, the circumcision rate in Kenya is good -- around 85%. But it's not high enough to provide the societal protection that circumcision gives. At least 1.2 million foreskins are still amongst them, foreskins that serve as portals for HIV, STDs, HPV, herpes, and other preventable diseases.

Here are excerpts from the news article. Don't you think it's time for the USA to learn the lesson from Africa?

"KISUMU, 17 November 2009 (PlusNews) - The Kenyan government is expanding services to meet the growing demand for voluntary medical male circumcision after the launch of a national campaign a year ago.

"We believe the launch of a rapid results initiative to scale up what we are already offering will help meet the demand; our target is an ambitious one to see to it that at least 1.1 million of the uncircumcised men in this country get the cut by the end of five years," said Jackson Kioko, director of medical services in western Nyanza Province.

Results of three random trials in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda in 2005 and 2006 demonstrated that medical male circumcision reduced the risk of HIV infection among men by up to 60 percent. According to the Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey 2007, 85 percent of Kenyan men are circumcised; HIV prevalence is higher by three-to-five times in uncircumcised men.

There are about 1.2 million uncircumcised men between the ages of 15 and 49 in Kenya, most of whom live in Nyanza Province, where fewer than 50 percent of men are circumcised. Since the launch of the national campaign in November 2008, an estimated 40,000 men have been circumcised and 124 sites opened and equipped with facilities and personnel to offer the service. The government has trained 700 health workers in the province to offer the services in various health facilities. "The trained health workers will ensure people who demand these services get them in a safe and timely manner and the training of others is ongoing across the various provinces within the country," Kioko added.

The government also plans to roll out mobile medical circumcision. "We do not want people to opt out simply because the services are not near them and we are making arrangements that we go to them rather than them coming to us," Kioko said. "We will, in the near future, offer infant medical circumcision; this has the potential to help people in time before their sexual debut."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Study: Circumcision Reduces Herpes & HPV in Males

How long must we wait for the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics to take account of the growing body of medical evidence that points in only one direction -- every boy should be circumcised to protect himself, his partners, and society as a whole.

This week, still another study in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms that male circumcision reduces a male's chance of getting genital herpes and HPV.

After years of such evidence, it's amazing that the CDC and AAP feel so threatened by a small group of anti-circumcision fanatics that they appear to be back-pedaling on doing what is medically right. I will never understand why the foreskin fetishists go to such extremes, but eventually even the docs at the CDC and AAP will yield to medical science and declare what most of us know is true: circumcision is good for every boy!

For more evidence of that, read the full Reuters story, as reported in the Vancouver Times Colonist:

Circumcision protects men from genital herpes and a virus that causes genital warts and cancer but it does not appear to guard against syphilis, U.S. and Ugandan researchers said on Wednesday.

The report in the New England Journal of Medicine adds to the debate over whether men — and newborn boys — should be circumcised to protect their health and perhaps the health of their future sexual partners.

The findings from two trials in Uganda build on related research showing that circumcision cuts a man's risk of HIV infection through heterosexual intercourse by more than 50 per cent, said Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, which funded the study.

They also come at a time when circumcision rates are declining in places like the United States even as evidence mounts that the practice can provide important health benefits.

"Medically supervised adult male circumcision is a scientifically proven method for reducing a man's risk of acquiring HIV infection through heterosexual intercourse," he said.

"This new research provides compelling evidence that circumcision can provide some protection against genital herpes and human papillomavirus infections as well."

The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. It causes cervical cancer, which kills 300,000 women globally every year.

The team, which also included researchers from Johns Hopkins University in the United States and Makerere University in Uganda, conducted two parallel clinical trials to analyse the impact of male circumcision as a public health tool.

The combined results of the studies looking at more than 3,000 men showed circumcision reduced the risk of herpes by 25 per cent and of HPV by one third. HPV also causes anal and penile cancers.

Circumcision also appeared to reduce the odds of genital warts but had no effect on the incidence of syphilis, the researchers added.

The study highlights the potential of using circumcision to protect people most at risk of the infections in the developing world, especially Africa, where HIV and HPV are widespread.

"Efforts to scale-up male circumcision could have tremendous benefit," said David Serwadda of Makerere University in Uganda, who worked on the study.

Since 2007, circumcision has been promoted by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS as a way to reduce the risk of AIDS in areas where heterosexual transmission is high.

When done in children, the operation reduces the chance of urinary tract infections and phimosis, a problem with the foreskin.