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Circumcision cuts STD risk, major study
Circumcised males are less likely than their uncircumcised peers to acquire a sexually transmitted infection, the findings of a 25-year study suggest.
According to the report in the November issue of Pediatrics, circumcision may reduce the risk of acquiring and spreading such infections by up to 50 percent, which suggests "substantial benefits" for routine neonatal circumcision.
The current study is just one of many that have looked at this controversial topic. While most research has found that circumcision reduces the rates of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), syphilis and genital ulcers, the results are more mixed for other STDs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has called the evidence "complex and conflicting," and therefore concludes that, at present, the evidence is insufficient to support routine neonatal circumcision.
In the current study, the researchers analyzed data collected for the Christchurch Health and Development Study, which included a large birth cohort of children from New Zealand. Males were divided into two groups based on circumcision status before 15 years of age. The presence of a sexually transmitted infection between 18 and 25 years of age was determined by questionnaire.
The 356 uncircumcised boys had a 2.66-fold increased risk of sexually transmitted infection compared with the 154 circumcised boys, lead author Dr. David M. Fergusson and colleagues, from the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences report.
Moreover, this elevated risk was largely unchanged after accounting for potential confounders, such as number of sexual partners and unprotected sex.
The authors estimate that had routine neonatal circumcision been in place, the rate of sexually transmitted infections in the current cohort would have been reduced by roughly 48 percent.
This analysis shows that the benefits of circumcision for reducing
the risk of sexually transmitted infection "may be substantial," the
authors conclude. "The public health issues raised by these findings
clearly involve weighing the longer-term benefits of routine neonatal
circumcision in terms of reducing risks of infection within the
population, against the perceived costs of the procedure," they
Warning: This study received substantial on-line medical and ethical critical comment, including the citation of numerous other studies that found that circumcision has no appreciable effect in preventing infection with sexually transmitted disease.
As a result of the critical comments, Fergusson and colleagues retracted their study on November 21, 2006, saying: "Recent correspondence to the journal has highlighted the fact that our findings are not consistent with cross-sectional studies of the linkages between circumcision and the more common forms of STI (including Chlamydia, genital warts, genital herpes, gonorrhea, and non-specific urethral infections). Of particular relevance is a recent Australian survey of 10,000 respondents and the preliminary findings from the Dunedin study. These discrepancies with our findings are too large to be disregarded, and we are of the view that it would be premature to use our findings to promote the view that circumcision reduces risks of less severe forms of STI, until further research clarifying this issue is conducted." (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/eletters/118/5/1971#4725 )
David M. Fergusson is a circumcision advocate who got caught using bad science to promote the unconscionable. Do NOT be fooled!
Action:: E-Mail msn.com
to tell them to remove this false story that the author's don't even
support any longer. firstname.lastname@example.org
January 2, 2008
90 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
We were surprised to see that the list of the 100 Top Science Stories of 2007 in your January issue (by Apoorva Mandavilli) included as number 15 Male Circumcision: A New Defense Against HIV. Recent reports indicate that the United Nations and other influential bodies have significantly exaggerated the number of people affected by HIV and AIDS. Moreover, for well over a decade the number of new individuals being infected with HIV has been in decline.
In fact, the real top science story is a bit different and concerns a small group of scientists strangely fixated on removing tissue from penises. These men (for that is almost exclusively who they are) have published three studies suffering from fatal flaws that have been pointed to by numerous physicians and even leading HIV organizations in Australia and France.
The most common medical procedure in the US is the only one never shown to be medically justified to stop HIV or for any other reason. It is untenable, bordering on absurd, to suggest that flawed results regarding adult circumcision in Africa are remotely applicable to circumcision of infants in the US. Modalities of transmission and sociological conditions are vastly different. In Africa, one of the most common ways to become infected is through a visit to a health clinic! Moreover, the circumcision experiment has already been tried and has utterly failed here, as the US has both the highest circumcision rate and the highest HIV rate in the developed world.
With your position as one of this countrys premier science journals comes the responsibility to investigate and publish the truth. We ask that you set the record straight on this issue.
J. Steven Svoboda
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child