Fighting STDs?

Menstuff® has information on using circumcision to fight the spread of STDs.

Note. A press release regarding information on research that was done in India reports that "They had severe methodological flaws. In India, Muslim men are circumcised, but Hindu men are not circumcised. The two groups studied came from different religions and cultures." And, "the incidence of HIV infection in the United States, where most men are circumcised, is four times higher than the incidence of HIV infection in Europe where most men are not circumcised." Also, check circumcision Issues, Books, Resources

Circumcision: Cutting it Off in the Fight Against STD's

Male circumcision, practiced by the Jews and the Muslims as a religious ritual, has been the secular norm in North America and some parts of Europe in the last century. Proof of this can be found in any sex shop – just look at the dildos and you'll discover that most of them are circumcised too. This suggests that the Chinese manufacturers and the Western distributors know what their clients are looking for. The ladies and gentlemen, in the Anglo-European world at least, have voted for the circumcised prick as the ideal manifestation of male integrity.

When the Jews began circumcising 2,000 years ago, they may have hit on something that preceded its time. We can't be sure that Moses was thinking of avoiding sex bugs, since his tribe weren't supposed to be swinging (each man would certainly never have sex with anyone other than his wife, except for his second wife, perhaps a third and a fourth…) The clan was probably thinking about creating a unique marking that identified their own when they went to take a leak and sneaked a peak at the guy over at the next bush. It was quite the differentiator, until the Moslems began the practice, which made circumcision known and imitated around the world.

The practice of circumcision is usually done on babies, without anesthesia. The layer of the foreskin, which covers the penis, is actually attached to the penis in babies, so it needs to be cut away from the penis, before about a third of it is snipped off. This exposed the core of the penis, giving it a whole new look. In adults, this process is a bit simpler, because the foreskin has already naturally detached from the underlying penis, so it only needs to be snipped. Adult men, though, are wise enough to use anesthetic.

Those men who choose to undergo circumcision, either do it for religious reasons, or for aesthetic ones, when they grow up in societies where peaking at the boys in the latrine teaches them that their penis looks "unfinished" (this is the claim of many such men which sends them under the knife).

In the last few decades, various crusaders have arrived to wage their battles for and against circumcision. Some might say it’s a slightly more sophisticated way for men to make their penises subject for public debate, but we shall give them credit that just maybe, there is greater human interest to be served.

The first mighty voices have moaned that circumcision is traumatic and an unnecessary disfigurement, and even if babies grow up and cannot consciously recall the experience, that trauma may be something that they carry with them for life. A movement known as the Genital Integrity movement says that male circumcision, carried out on unsuspecting babies, is as unethical as female genital mutilation or reassigning gender to intersex babies before knowing what sex they would choose for themselves.

Others say that if circumcision is to be done, the younger, the better. And now that the AIDS researchers have jumped on the band wagon, these voices are coming up loud and clear, but they are meeting with a huge amount of opposition from many different places.

Recent studies conducted in different settings in Africa and India have shown that circumcision may cut the chances of HIV infection by up to 6 times. (Editor's noteA reality check for men in the U.S.) This follows previous studies of the same sort, some of which said the same thing, and others which found no specific benefit for preventing disease. The biological basis is that the foreskin is made of very thin tissue, which is more susceptible to infection than the thicker skin of the penis itself. This is true for HIV as well as other sexually transmitted infections. Another point is that the foreskin is a really good hangout for viruses and bacteria, because it offers warm, comfortable vacation spots, and is more difficult to keep clean than the tighter surface of the circumcised brother appendage.

When AIDS researchers put their fingers on a new notion to fight the spread of infection, they are generally pointing their fingers towards Africa or South East Asia, where the idea of mass surgical campaigns are merely logistical feats and not necessarily ethical dilemmas. That is one criticism, but another main grievance is how could people who care about saving human life, consider proposing this simple yet painful plastic surgery that is very likely to lead men to believe that their new-found protection is better than it really is. Think about it – after undergoing this procedure, might you not be tempted to believe you have earned the right to forego other safe sex behaviour like condom use? Sex without a condom remains unsafe, even if it means that the gamble is a bit safer.

Now, there's an argument that could blow one's mind, or possibly their culturally-prescribed tool.

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