Once again, the US is pushing for circumcisions. There had been ongoing debate for years and even urologists had not reached a consensus regarding circumcisions in terms of reducing rates of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Circumcision rates were high at one point, but have recently dropped off. Now, the doctors in the US are urging people to consent to circumcisions for their sons in order to reduce infection rates of sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes, HPV and even HIV.
Reports state that circumcision rates are lowest amongst blacks and Hispanics – the groups with the highest rates of HIV, herpes and cervical cancer. Of course, since cervical cancer only occurs in women, this statement assumes that black women are either getting it or giving it to black men and Hispanics. Though no one understands why the extra flap at the end of the penis would make such a difference in terms of infection, the hypothesis is that the wet skin allows more viruses to stick or that the wetness can lead to ulcerations, which can then allow viruses to enter.
US scientists are pointing to a research done by their colleagues from Johns Hopkins, a well-renowned teaching and research institution. However, the research was carried out in Uganda and only investigated the role of circumcision in HPV and herpes transmission. Apparently, previous research had shown that circumcision led to a “sharp” risk reduction of HIV transmission – the “sharpness” was not revealed in terms of numbers. But, according to this latest research, HPV transmission was reduced by a third while herpes was reduced by 25%.
As with the argument in UTIs, would the reduced risk be nullified if proper hygiene was practiced by uncircumcised males? But, of course, one of the biggest arguments against this research is that a study amongst a group of African males in a country rampant with sexually transmitted diseases cannot be applied across all races in all countries.