August 28, 2009
A Chicago Tribune health column discusses recent findings indicating routine male circumcision could help prevent the spread of HIV, evidence which has "led both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics to consider issuing first-ever recommendations on routine circumcision of boys." According to the Tribune, "Scientists think circumcision can protect against HIV because the tissue of the foreskin has a high number of target cells for HIV infection and is susceptible to tearing during intercourse, providing an entry point for the virus. The higher rates of certain sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, observed in uncircumcised men also may increase susceptibility to HIV infection, studies suggest." CDC spokesperson Nikki Kay said the agency's recommendations will address male infants and men at high risk for contracting HIV. The article notes, "Neither the pediatrics academy nor the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists currently recommend routine neonatal circumcision" (Shelton, 8/27).
In related news, PolitiFact's "Truth-O-Meter" examines claims made by Rush Limbaugh on his radio show that President Obama "'wants to mandate circumcision.' ... He cited a Fox News story about an upcoming report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that may recommend circumcision for newborn boys as a way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. ... The CDC will be discussing what to include in the recommendations at the National HIV Prevention Conference, which is being held in Atlanta this week." According to PolitiFact, "[W]e could find no connection between Obama and the new guidance [being considered by CDC], and no evidence that Obama had even used the word in a public forum. In fact, the recommendations were under discussion long before Obama took office" (Richert, 8/27)
The CDC also posted a statement this week on the status of its considerations on the issue. On its Web site, CDC said, "It is important to note that the recommendations are still in development and CDC has made no determination at this time about the final content," adding, "Whatever the content may include, CDC's final circumcision recommendations will be completely voluntary." The agency noted that it is "employing a deliberative, evidence-based process for developing the circumcision recommendations. ..." CDC said it will also "publish draft recommendations for public comment before the content will be finalized" (8/27).