Monday, November 15, 2010

San Francisco Contemplates Circumcision Ban Even As US Funds Circumcision Efforts To Curb AIDS

A San Francisco loon named Lloyd Schofield think that circumcision should be banned. He's busy circulating an anti-circumcision petition to get on the November 2011 ballot. All that's needed are just over 7,000 signatures. The proposal would also impose penalties of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail for circumcising individuals under the age of 18. He calls it genital mutilation even though it is a central Jewish tenet (bris) of God's covenant with the Jewish people. Of course, this ignores the reams of data showing that circumcisions provide health benefits including reduced infections and even has been shown to reduce the spread of AIDS.

Public health experts have seen that circumcision is a useful tool in fighting the spread of AIDS. The US is funding circumcision efforts across Africa and that includes Zimbabwe. These are circumcisions being done on an adult population when the risks for pain and complications are much higher but the benefits are notable:
Nurses unpacked one of 60,000 single-use circumcision kits allocated by USAID — forceps, disposable scalpels, needles and gauze — and administered local anesthesia while surgeon Shame Dendere exchanged cheerful banter with Marokwe.

He was told to expect minor pain after the anesthetic had worn off, to abstain from sex for six weeks and to come back three times for follow-up treatment.

The procedure complete, Marokwe dressed and headed to a bus stop to ride home, saying "I'm going to tell all my friends."

The clinic conducts more than 40 procedures a day and expects demand to grow to as many as 180 a day as word spreads.

If the program can circumcise 1.2 million Zimbabwean men by 2017, 750,000 new HIV infections can be averted, Jansen said. The organizers envisage a future stage for the program with circumcision at birth. At present more than 10 percent of Zimbabwean men are circumcised, mainly in tribal ceremonies during early childhood.

While condoms and fidelity remain essential, circumcision helps because the foreskin is more vulnerable to the AIDS virus.

According to Population Services International, an independent family planning and sexual health organization, Zimbabwe's infection rate is about 13 percent of the population, but rises above 20 percent in the 13-30 age group.

The circumcision is free, with USAID picking up most of the cost, helped by the international Population Services group and health care charities, but a nominal fee is being considered because "when something is free, there is a tendency for people not to attach any value to it," said Roy Dhlamini, a PSI social worker.
Note the part I put in bold. 750,000 AIDS cases could be averted through the circumcision campaign. That means 750,000 fewer cases that require long term medical care and life-long medication that puts a significant drain on the economy of Africa and Zimbabwe in particular.

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