HIV and circumcision

What?

Circumcising men with HIV does not reduce the risk of them transmitting the virus to their partners, a study suggests, but nonetheless the surgery may have some public health benefits.

Why in hell would anyone try testing that? The viral load is in the semen, not the foreskin!

The point about HIV and circumcision is that it reduces the liklihood of getting it in the first place, not of passing it on!

What were these people doing?

21 thoughts on “HIV and circumcision”

  1. Infection the other way around (woman-to-man) is definitely affected by circumcision (in some studies six times less likely). So there’s already a clear public health benefit.

  2. Because of the basic rule that human cells can only divide x-many times, hospitals prize foreskins of young babies most highly – they bung them in some solution or other, and once the cells have divided x-times, they can turn one foreskin from a circumcised baby boy into a sheet of skin the size of a tennis court*, which is really handy for skin grafts for burns victims and so on.

    * I’m assuming that they grow lots of small ones, not an actual tennis court-sized thing.

    Which gives a whole new meaning to the Jewish joke about the husband who brought home a purse for his wife’s birthday.

    “A purse? A bloody purse? That’s my birthday present?” shouts she.

    “Nah, it’s made from foreskins, just rub it** and it turns into a suitcase” he replies.

    ** In the updated version, the husband would reply “Nah, it’s made of foreskins, just stick it into a petri-dish with the appropriate nutrients for a month and it turns into a suitcase”.

    Or something.

  3. Not to be too ‘cavalier’ about this, but if it becomes compulsory, I will be first to the barricades.
    Take my fags, take my beer, but there are some things you really have to say ‘no’ to.

    I knew a chap who had it done at 19 for religious reasons, he walked like John Wayne for nearly 6 months.

    But never mind all that, you can use them to get yourself a wife. According to the Bible, King Saul offered David, Beloved of God, his daughter’s hand in marriage on the condition that he kill 100 Philistines and return with their foreskins as proof. David, an early over-achiever, returned with 200 foreskins, which to my mind is just showing off.

    Most Dad’s just like a steady job and a nice bank balance.

  4. Maybe david thought that if he over acheived he would get the whole daughter and not just the hand.

  5. Among practcing Jews, the circumcision is to be performed by a traditional specialist known as a
    “moil.”

    It’s quite a prestigious job with very good pay–
    plus all the tips.

  6. The circumcision lobby is one of the second-rank groups in the progressive Cranks’ Crusade, alongside e.g. the breast feeding obsessives, natural/painful childbirthers, etc, They’re constantly looking for reasons to circumcise everybody, and the latest junk science is protection against AIDS- which mirrors their nineteenth century equivalents who believed it protected against syphilis. After that it was supposed to prevent masturbation. Then it was supposed to reduce the risk of rare cancers like penile cancer. As with everyone in the Cranks Crusade, they have their minds made up and the job of science is to prove what they already believe.

    Typical of the Crusaders’ use of the Third World as their playground, the bastards have already got circumcision programmes up and running on the ignorant darkies on this AIDS-related pretext. These people are cranks and quacks. They are mad.

    Male genital mutilation is as much an outrage against the person as female genital mutilation. A person whose first thought upon seeking a beautiful healthy baby is to start hacking bits off its genitals is sick in the head. Damn these fuckers to hell.

  7. “These people are cranks and quacks.”
    You are not being too rational yourself, IanB. “Male genital mutilation’ is different, mainly because, unlike female genital mutilation, it doesn’t damage sexual function. Circumcision may not have all the benefits claimed, but it is not harmful or traumatic to an infant. If the parents want their son circumcised, for whatever reason, that’s their decision. You, and the state, should butt out.

  8. “Male genital mutilation’ is different, mainly because, unlike female genital mutilation, it doesn’t damage sexual function.

    This is hard to prove either way- the fact that a penis works after mutilation doesn’t mean it is working the same as it would have done otherwise. Amputation of the little toe would not seriously affect foot function. That doesn’t make it acceptable on the whimsy of the foot owner’s parents.

    Circumcision may not have all the benefits claimed, but it is not harmful or traumatic to an infant.

    Then one wonders why the baby shows every sign of experiencing intense pain and shock during the procedure.

    There is also a small but significant risk of catastrophic complications to an organ which is extremely important to normal life. All operations are risky, and none should be carried out without consent on infants unless there is a good medical reason to do so.

    If the parents want their son circumcised, for whatever reason, that’s their decision. You, and the state, should butt out.

    There are limits on what parents may do to their children- they may not have sex with them, beat them savagely, starve them, incarcerate them, murder them and so on.

    The issue of free choice for parents alters when another person- the child- enters the equation. We rightly deplore tribal mutilation of female children. Boys should have the same protection as human beings from the barbarisms of their parents. This is entirely consistent with basic liberal/libertarian concepts of individual negative rights and the non-aggression principle. The parents do not have the right to aggress against their child, any more than anyone else does.

    If an adult man wants to undergo this procedure, of course he is entitled to do so, and that is no business of the state. Children are a different kettle of fish.

  9. Everything, including circumcision, has its risks and/or transient discomfort. For practicing Jews and Muslims, circumcision is religiously important and must be done in infancy. Is it worth the risk? That’s for the parents to decide, not the state.
    Of course, we could avoid these questions if we just removed children from their parents at birth and raised them in a creche. CPS care for all!

  10. ‘Of course, we could avoid these questions if we just removed children from their parents at birth and raised them in a creche. CPS care for all”

    Ah, yes, clearly those who oppose male genital mutilation have an underlying agenda to take all children into care.

    Those who practice female genital mutilation do so for religious or cultural reasons but few people if any in the west would argue that the practice should be allowed in order to respect these cultures or religions. Children need to be protected from people with primitive beliefs.

    To defend MGM on the basis of degree relative to FGM is just ridiculous. Mutilating infants is mutilation whatever the degree.

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    Anyone who rants about male genital mutilation is clearly a few plates short of a picnic.

    We have no idea if it impedes function but it is not likely that it does. Seeing how people who have had the procedure done as adults aren’t suing and have children.

    Nor, by the way, do Muslims do it at infancy. There is no rule in Islamic law – as it is not supported by the Quran or any positive commandment. But it is usually done between 7 or so and 18. Often in public.

  12. Anyone who rants about male genital mutilation is clearly a few plates short of a picnic.

    Why? Are you saying that people who oppose unnecessary interference with babies’ genitalia are mad, whereas those who desire to cut bits off them are the sane ones? Does this strike you as rational?

    We have no idea if it impedes function but it is not likely that it does.

    See my discussion of feet above.

    Seeing how people who have had the procedure done as adults aren’t suing and have children.

    Women in FGM cultures are fertile, and consider genital mutilation normal and important. They often believe that spiritual pollution and demonic possession will be suffered by the unmutilated.

    ***

    We know that genital mutilation is simply an ancient practise which arose among primitive tribes in the middle east. Practices, degree and age and gender of the ritual varied from tribe to tribe. For some tribes, significantly the Jews, circumcision became a marker of tribal identity, incorporated into their religion as it developed from its basic tribal form to the more advanced monotheistic codified form we recognise today. We can be as sure as eggs is eggs that the supreme being of the Universe never demanded it.

    What people choose to do to themselves is no business of the rest of society. When they inflict upon others, then it becomes so. That is the very purpose of the existence of the law.

  13. I’ll tell you one remarkable thing that this discussion has engendered: a point on which IanB, johnb and I find ourselves simultaneously in total harmony. Surely a portent of the end times.

    Actually, it’s not that remarkable. I’m sure John and I could have a civilised drink together, despite disagreeing about virtually everything, and Ian and I could compete to see who was the most anarchic libertarian (Ian would win).

    Postscript: I remember getting apoplectically angry in a discussion about Female Genital Mutilation in the Queen’s Arms in Kensington just after my 1st year exams with a visiting Professor from Denmark. We both agreed it was abominable, but I was more vociferous in my denunciation. Much of the subsequent proceedings escape me, but I do know that I was eventually retrieved by my friends, having fallen asleep in a cubicle of the toilets on the ground floor of the Blackett Laboratory on Prince Consort Road. This in no way colours my views on the subject.

  14. IanB is absolutely correct, and this blog post is clearly a sign of the Apocalypse.

    The medical justification for male circumcision is pathetic and a disgrace. There is no reason why parents should be allowed to have their children’s genitals mutilated regardless of the sex of the child.

    We should not be mutilating children’s genitals for such spurious medical benefits – would anyone seriously suggest that all breast tissue removed from infant girls to prevent the much more prevalent cases of breast cancer? Or infant hysterectomies to prevent ovarian cancer?

    Its a barbaric practice straight out of the Bronze Age.

  15. Leaving aside the moral issues for a mo.

    There is a serious practical one. This is largely targetted at sub-Saharan Africans (who the Righteous treat as pets) and various tribes and whatnot do circumcise boys at a certain age as a rite of passage. They do the full cohort of that age at the same time. Big ritual and all that. They tend to do it with the same knife on all of them, unsterilized between cuts…

    I think it might have been Botswana which banned it precisely because it was spreading HIV.

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