Speaking of penises, circumcision and HIV are back in the news. Various news outlets have had stories this past week because the Centers for Disease Control are about to release recommendations about circumcisions because of a study that linked to to a reduction in HIV infections in African, heterosexual men.
While the debate goes back and forth about whether it's better, aesthetically, sexually, or hygienically, to be cut or uncut, the debate comes down to a question of bodily autonomy to me. If there really is evidence that people who are cut are less likely to get HIV, present boys with that evidence in comprehensive sexual education classes when they're in high school and let them decide when they're 18. I'll agree that there won't be as many men who are cut if we do it that way, but that's the price we pay for living in a free society.
In the US, it would be awfully rich for the CDC to recommend routine circumcision to fight HIV. There's the issue that there's no evidence it would make a dent in HIV rates in the US, but, more importantly, for a government that has done so little to fight domestic HIV to recommend such an extreme measure should really only give people pause about the incoherence in its actions. The same government that can't bring itself to create and mandate comprehensive sex education or universal health care access wouldn't really need to consider an extreme measure like routine circumcision to reduce HIV, right?
You'd think that getting people knowledgeable about how to protect themselves with condoms, getting as many people as possible testing regularly, and then providing the life-saving medications for those who can't afford them would be the most obvious ways to prevent HIV-related deaths. Not so in the US. We haven't even tried the obvious and we're already talking routine circumcision!
Anyway, there's no evidence circumcision reduces MSM HIV transmission, and the CDC also announced new numbers estimating that gay and bi men are 50 times more likely to have the virus.
CDC official Dr. Amy Lansky announced today at a plenary session of the National HIV Prevention Conference the CDC's finding that, in the United States, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) have AIDS at a rate more than 50 times (that's right, FIFTY TIMES) greater than women and non-gay/bi men. This confirms in emphatic terms that of all the disparities and disproportionate impacts in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, the greatest one is the extraordinarily disproportionate impact on gay and bisexual men -- of all races and ethnicities-- though the most disproportionate impact is on African American gay, bi and other MSM.
AIDS is over, my ass. But if it's true that we're 50 times more at risk than straight people (I do wonder how they came up with a population of not just gay and bi men, but, really, of men who have sex with men who may identify or not identify as anything and therefore be hard to pin down), then why is all the hubbub around a procedure that's been proven to do nothing for us?