The topic is a delicate one that has already generated controversy, even though a formal draft of the proposed recommendations, due out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of the year, has yet to be released.
Experts are also considering whether the surgery should be offered to adult heterosexual men whose sexual practices put them at high risk of infection. But they acknowledge that a circumcision drive in the United States would be unlikely to have a drastic impact: the procedure does not seem to protect those at greatest risk here, men who have sex with men.
Recently, studies showed that in African countries hit hard by AIDS, men who were circumcised reduced their infection risk by half. But the clinical trials in Africa focused on heterosexual men who are at risk of getting HIV from infected female partners.
For now, the focus of public health officials in this country appears to be on making recommendations for newborns, a prevention strategy that would only pay off many years from now. Critics say it subjects baby boys to medically unnecessary surgery without their consent.
Clinical trials in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda found that heterosexual men who were circumcised were up to 60 percent less likely to become infected with HIV over the course of the trials than those who were not circumcised.
Members of Intact America oppose circumcision on broad philosophical and medical grounds, Ms. Chapin argued that the studies in Africa found only that circumcision reduces HIV infection risk, not that it prevents infection. “Men still need to use condoms,” Ms. Chapin said.
In fact, while the clinical trials in Africa found that circumcision reduced the risk of a man’s acquiring HIV, it was not clear whether it would reduce the risk to women from an infected man, several experts said.
“There’s mixed data on that,” Dr. Kilmarx said. But, he said, “If we have a partially successful intervention for men, it will ultimately lower the prevalence of HIV in the population, and ultimately lower the risk to women.”
Circumcision is believed to protect men from infection with H.I.V. because the mucosal tissue of the foreskin is more susceptible to HIV and can be an entry portal for the virus. Observational studies have found that uncircumcised men have higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections like herpes and syphilis, and a recent study in Baltimore found that heterosexual men were less likely to have become infected with HIV from infected partners if they were circumcised.
source: The New York Times
picture by S H HO urology and laparoscopy center