How's my headline? Does it sound teabag militia wingnutty enough to get some cranky, gun-toting mobs to wave their "Don't Tread On My American Forskin!" signs outside the CDC? Because the NY Times reports that HIV/AIDS epidemiology officials at the CDC are so persuaded by the results of recent adult circumcision studies in Africa, they're "considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V."
The recommendation is drafted and will be discussed this week at the C.D.C.'s National H.I.V. Prevention Conference in Atlanta, but it sounds like a done deal. The CDC guy's all for it, and the only critics in the story are from some intactivists who "have rented mobile billboards that will drive around Atlanta carrying their message that 'circumcising babies doesn't prevent H.I.V.'"
No kidding. Even the proponents acknowledge that even if full-scale infant circumcision does have any impact on HIV infection rates in the US, it would be "muted" and "many years from now." As for the health benefits to women, "There's mixed data on that," said the CDC's Dr. Peter Kilmarx, by which he means none. It's just one more way the three African study results are inapplicable to the US HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Over their 18-month duration, those studies showed up to 60% lower transmission rate from HIV-positive women to their male sex partners who were circumcised as adults. HIV risk in the US is primarily among men who have sex with men--and the women who have sex with them.
Also, the US penile profile, so to speak, is completely different. A whopping 79% of adult males in the US are already circumcised, which is close to the 80% newborn circumcision rate after WWII. Even with demographic and cultural changes over the last three generations, that rate was still 65% in 1999. But a 2009 UCLA AIDS Institute foreskin freakout study found the nationwide rate had dropped to 55.9%, largely because 16 states have stopped covering infant circumcision under Medicaid.
Has any HIV researcher run the numbers to show how America's uniquely high circumcision rate has already prevented millions of straight male HIV infections? And if circumcision's such a great preventative, why not have the CDC focus on promoting adult circumcision among the unwashed, uncut, at-risk populations? After all, what could be more American than a good old-fashioned, government-sponsored penis-trimming? Isn't that how we beat the Nazis and Japs and brought Our Boys home? I'm sure Fox News could rally a bunch of angry old white men to come out for widespread genital mutilation for brown guys. Wow, I feel healthier already.