Questioning Circumcision

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FREE DVD December 11, 2007

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Male Circumcision and HIV: A Public Health Policy Weblog

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  • Circumcision does not affect HIV in U.S. men

Removing foreskin no protection for American men of color, study finds 

December 4, 2007: MSNBC: READ THE STORY  


Circumcision does not affect HIV in US men: study

Washington, Dec 04: Circumcision may reduce a man’s risk of infection with the AIDS virus by up to 60% if he is an African, but it does not appear to help American men of color, US researchers reported on Monday. Black and Latino men were just as likely to become infected with the AIDS virus whether they were circumcised or not, Greg Millett of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. “We also found no protective benefit for a subset of black MSM (men who have sex with men) who also had recent sex with female partners,” Millett told reporters in a telephone briefing. Doctors believe circumcision protects men because of specialized cells in the foreskin of the penis, which is removed in the procedure. The foreskin is filled with immune cells called Langerhans cells, which are the immune system’s sentinels and attach easily to viruses — including HIV. In addition, sexual intercourse may cause tiny tears in the foreskin, allowing the virus into the bloodstream. The data has been so clear that the World Health Organization now recommends circumcision as one of the ways to prevent HIV infection. But circumcision does not protect men 100 percent — the studies in Africa have suggested it is 50 to 60% protective. Millett’s team studied 1,079 black and 957 Latino bisexual and homosexual men from New York City, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. They filled out a computer survey and were tested for the AIDS virus. “Overall, we found no association between circumcision status and HIV infection status among black or Latino (men who have sex with men),” said Millett, who presented his findings to the CDC’s National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta. Experts knew circumcision would not protect a female sex partner, nor the male sex partner being penetrated. But Millett’s study found no benefit of circumcision to any of the men. “We also found no protective benefit of circumcision among those men reporting recent unprotected sex with a male partner in which they were exclusively the insertive male partner,” he said. HIV is much more common among black and Latino men than whites and this may offset any protection offered by circumcision, Millett said. Black and Latino men are more likely to have sex with other black and Latino men, and thus may be exposed to HIV more often than white men. The CDC is about to release new estimates of how many people become infected with the fatal and incurable human immunodeficiency virus each year in the United States. The CDC estimates that more than 1 million Americans are infected, of the 33 million infected people globally. Bureau Report 

“No one is promoting circumcision as a license for unprotected sex, but inevitably, in Africa and elsewhere, circumcision will be used not in concert with condoms but instead of condoms, potentially wiping out more than two decades’ worth of safer-sex intervention. Also, in an environment where “cut” = “clean,” women, who already constitute the majority of AIDS deaths in Africa, will have far less bargaining power to insist on safer sex with circumcised partners, and may seroconvert in even greater numbers.”LINK 


A worldwide human rights issue… December 10, 2007

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FOR USE AS DESIRED WITH YEAR END–FILE *Filipino Ruel Emir cries as he is being given a free circumcision during a military medical mission as part of community service at a slum community in Tondo, Manila, in this March 31, 2007, file photo./AP – U.N. health agencies recommended Wednesday that heterosexual men undergo circumcision because of “compelling” evidence that it can reduce their chances of contracting HIV by up to 60 percent. March 28th, 2007/A boy being circumcised recently in Algeria. Circumcision practices vary widely across the world. (Fayez Nureldine/Getty Images)



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The Truth About Turtlenecks

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Warm.  Cozy.  Stretchy.  Protective.  Functional.      


Did you know women have a foreskin, too?  It’s our clitoral hood.  And just like a woman’s clitoral hood protects her clitoris, a man’s foreskin protects the surface of the glans (head) penis.  Here’s a great mouse-over animation that shows how both structures develop in a human embryo: LINK. Without that protection, the mucousal surface of the clitoris and the head of the penis is exposed to air and rubbing against clothing.  This constant, unnatural exposure causes the delicate, sensitive skin to dry and thicken, similar to the way the bottoms of your feet callous if you go barefoot all summer. Unlike the callouses on your feet however, the keratinization of the head of the penis is lifelong.


What other nifty stuff does the foreskin do? 


Well, the foreskin itself is full of nerves and blood vessels.  An adult’s foreskin is a double-layered, mobile, tubular sheath 15 square inches in size.  So much for a little snip, eh?  It protects the glans (head) of the penis just as a woman’s clitoral hood (also medically known as the “prepuce”) develops from the same embryonic tissue and protects her glans clitoris, keeping it slightly moist, soft, supple, and ultra-sensitive.  Without this built-in, physiological protection a process called keratinization begins.  Over time, the mucousal skin dries out and builds up additional layers, in much the same way as the bottoms of our feet would become calloused from going barefoot all summer, except, unfortunately, the keratinization resulting from infant circumcision continues throughout a man’s entire lifetime.      Find out more about the wonders of the foreskin:  

  • The Prepuce (Part1)    
  •  The Prepuce (Part 2)    

How the gliding mechanism works: Anatomy of the Penis and the Mechanics of Intercourse    Just how much skin does routine infant circumcision remove from a future adult male? 





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 UPDATE! December 9, 2007: Doctors back call for circumcision ban