Many of our readers were disgusted we would even raise the possibility that slicing the foreskin off baby boys in an effort to stem HIV transmission rates could be a good thing. We expected as much, even though there’s significant research showing circumcision cuts female-to-male transmission rates by half. (That, and Jewish families regularly circumcise their sons, but maybe that “religious tradition” is acceptable?) Alas, circumcision doesn’t have the same health benefits for gay men, or whatever you want to call men who have sex with other men. But what’s interesting to note, as KJ Dell’Antonia does, is that the whole debate about making unprotected sex safer by going after young people differs widely when you’re talking about boys and girls.
When it came to girls and preventing HPV, which can cause genital warts and possibly lead to cervical cancer, the debate over vaccinating pre-pubescent gals caused an uproar. Namely, critics suggested an HPV vaccine — that could help prevent cancer — this would lead to increased promiscuity amongst America’s sluts. (For the vaccine to work, girls must receive it before ever being exposed to HPV, which happens when they’re sexually active.)
But when it came time to discuss a similar (albeit not identical!) healthcare recommendation — doing something to young boys that could help prevent HIV infection — there was no such uproar. What, nobody thinks that circumcising boys will lead them to become (straight) manwhores because they’re less at risk for contracting HIV?
It’s important to note: Whatever the Center for Disease Control decides about male circumcision, it will never be mandatory. It will only be a recommendation, something parents can still freely decide on for their sons. But if the CDC does make an official recommendation for the procedure, it will once again be covered by Medicaid; many states began eliminating coverage for the procedure. So wouldn’t that be a good thing? To give parents the option of, one day, lessening the chances their son will contract HIV during a night of utter stupidity?
Undoubtedly, some will still say circumcision is genital mutilation, and a CDC recommendation will only put a government stamp on the procedure while taxpayers pick up the bill. And that’s a fine argument. But we’re big fans of more education and more options for Americans and their health care decisions.