I'm going to attempt to not offend those who circumcise or those who do not. I'm probably not going to succeed. But a new study on circumcision has come out and it has me thinking. The study looked at why circumcision reduces a man's risk of getting HIV by at least half. It was known it did before, but the exact reason why wasn't concrete. This new information supports the thought that by removing the foreskin, bacteria cannot build up and compromise the immune system, making some more susceptible to contract HIV.
I still don't think this is a good argument to say all men should be circumcised.
Being circumcised doesn't protect you from getting HIV. Sure it reduces the chance. But there are a lot of things in this world that we all do every day that could reduce our chances of something bad. Take flying. If we never fly in a plane, we will never die in an airplane. If we do, there is a chance of that plane crashing to the ground. A small chance, yes, but still a chance. That's sort of how I see this.
But I'm also the kind of mom very concerned about Gardasil and am not planning on giving my daughter the HPV vaccine. The side effects are too worrisome.
This circumcision study's leader Dr. Cindy Liu and co-author Lance Price, a professor of environmental health sciences at George Washington University in Washington spoke to the LA Times. They said:
Of particular note is that circumcision undercuts anaerobic bacteria, the microbes that thrive in oxygen-deprived environments. By reducing the number of anaerobic bacteria, the body's immune cells may be better able to destroy the virus.
There were 156 Ugandan men ages 15 to 49 who took part in this study -- half were circumcised, the other half were not. In Uganda, 1 in 6 people are infected with HIV and more needs to be done to bring those numbers down all over the world. But I think a lot of it is education. The men who were circumcised had an 81 percent reduction in bacteria. That's excellent. But interestingly, all of the men in this study were given information on how to properly keep up with health and hygiene and that alone showed a 33 percent decrease in bacteria for the uncircumcised men. Education is key.
Which leads me to think of us in a modern world. These types of studies don't exactly apply to us. And I feel the information shouldn't be used against parents who choose not to circumcise their sons.
What do you think? Does this change your mind about circumcision?
Image via OptoScalpel/Flickr