Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Circumcision Wars in Australia

Circumcision wars have broken out in Sydney, with a leading professional body endorsing a policy which discourages it and a group of doctors disputing this in the Medical Journal of Australia. Routine infant circumcision in Australia has been discouraged for years and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians wants it to stay that way.

However, a group of Sydney specialists has described the practice as "sound health policy" which could reduce the chance of transmitting HIV later in life. Sydney physician Alex Wodak argues encouraging parents to have their baby boys circumcised is "common sense", given that the proportion of new HIV cases in Australia associated with heterosexual sex was increasing. “We should be trying nationally to get back to where we were in the 1950s and 60s where the majority of infant males were circumcised," he said.

However, Dr Gervase Chaney, of the College, feels that experience in other countries is not relevant. “We don't agree with it. We believe that the evidence currently would not support that in Australia, that it might be supported in other countries particularly obviously in Africa where there are much higher rates of HIV transmitted heterosexually but that at this stage that that is not something that we would support.” ~ ABC, Sept 20; Courier-Mail, Sept 20

To read more on circumcision, go here:


Mark Lyndon said...

Circumcision is a dangerous distraction in the fight against AIDS. Even in Africa, there are six countries where men are *more* likely to be HIV+ if they've been circumcised: Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, and Swaziland. Eg in Malawi, the HIV rate is 13.2% among circumcised men, but only 9.5% among intact men. In Rwanda, the HIV rate is 3.5% among circumcised men, but only 2.1% among intact men. If circumcision really worked against AIDS, this just wouldn't happen. We now have people calling circumcision a "vaccine" or "invisible condom", and viewing circumcision as an alternative to condoms. The South African National Communication Survey on HIV/AIDS, 2009 found that 15% of adults across age groups "believe that circumcised men do not need to use condoms".

The one randomized controlled trial into male-to-female transmission showed a 54% higher rate in the group where the men had been circumcised btw.

ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, and especially Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery will cost African lives, not save them.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I've read lots on this topic and I've never seen the circumcision termed an "invisible condom". Sounds like propaganda.

Mark Lyndon said...

"For me, I believe that when you make circumcision, it's like an invisible condom," said Ignace Hategekimana, 27, a student in Kigali who was recently circumcised.
"Some people can think that male circumcision is a full protection, like an invisible condom, so with the KAP study we will know what to tell the people and what message to develop," Rwego said. "After that we have to develop guidelines, train staff and buy equipment."


Even more common is the practice of people comparing male circumcision to a vaccine. Even the Auvert study said this:
"Male circumcision provides a degree of protection against acquiring HIV infection, equivalent to what a vaccine of high efficacy would have achieved."

Now that looks more like propaganda to me, as well as serious researcher bias. If I was selling condoms with a claimed 55% effectiveness, I'd be locked up.

How about the South African National Communication Survey on HIV/AIDS, 2009, which found that 15% of adults across age groups "believe that circumcised men do not need to use condoms".

Or does that sound like propaganda too?

Alice C. Linsley said...

It sounds like ignorance abounds and the governments have failed to educate people. I'm not sure that circumcision is the problem here.