Updated: May 19, 2021

Birth into being blog - Circumcision

Circumcision and Medical Association recommendations

Officials Weigh Circumcision to Fight H.I.V. Risk

By Roni Caryn Rabin, 2009, New York Times

Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. The topic is a delicate one that has already generated controversy, even though a formal draft of the proposed recommendations, due out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of the year, has yet to be released.

Experts are also considering whether the surgery should be offered to adult heterosexual men whose sexual practices put them at high risk of infection. But they acknowledge that a circumcision drive in the United States would be unlikely to have a drastic impact: the procedure does not seem to protect those at greatest risk here, men who have sex with men.

Recently, studies showed that in African countries hit hard by AIDS, men who were circumcised reduced their infection risk by half. But the clinical trials in Africa focused on heterosexual men who are at risk of getting H.I.V. from infected female partners.

For now, the focus of public health officials in this country appears to be on making recommendations for newborns, a prevention strategy that would only pay off many years from now. Critics say it subjects baby boys to medically unnecessary surgery without their consent.

But Dr. Peter Kilmarx, chief of epidemiology for the division of H.I.V./AIDS prevention at the C.D.C., said that any step that could thwart the spread of H.I.V. must be given serious consideration.

“We have a significant H.I.V. epidemic in this country, and we really need to look carefully at any potential intervention that could be another tool in the toolbox we use to address the epidemic,” Dr. Kilmarx said. “What we’ve heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.”

He and other experts acknowledged that although the clinical trials of circumcision in Africa had dramatic results, the effects of circumcision in the United States were likely to be more muted because the disease is less prevalent here, because it spreads through different routes and because the health systems are so disparate as to be incomparable. Clinical trials in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda found that heterosexual men who were circumcised were up to 60 percent less likely to become infected with H.I.V. over the course of the trials than those who were not circumcised.

There is little to no evidence that circumcision protects men who have sex with men from infection.

Another reason circumcision would have less of an impact in the United States is that some 79 percent of adult American men are already circumcised, public health officials say. But newborn circumcision rates have dropped in recent decades, to about 65 percent of newborns in 1999 from a high of about 80 percent after World War II, according to C.D.C. figures. And blacks and Hispanics, who have been affected disproportionately by AIDS, are less likely than whites to circumcise their baby boys, according to the agency.

Circumcision rates have fallen in part because the American Academy of Pediatrics, which sets the guidelines for infant care, does not endorse routine circumcision. Its policy says that circumcision is “not essential to the child’s current well-being,” and as a result, many state Medicaid programs do not cover the operation.

The academy is revising its guidelines, however, and is likely to do away with the neutral tone in favor of a more encouraging policy stating that circumcision has health benefits even beyond H.I.V. prevention, like reducing urinary tract infections for baby boys, said Dr. Michael Brady, a consultant to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

He said the academy would probably stop short of recommending routine surgery, however. “We do have evidence to suggest there are health benefits, and families should be given an opportunity to know what they are,” he said. But, he said, the value of circumcision for H.I.V. protection in the United States is difficult to assess, adding, “Our biggest struggle is trying to figure out how to understand the true value for Americans.”

Circumcision will be discussed this week at the C.D.C.’s National H.I.V. Prevention Conference in Atlanta, which will be attended by thousands of health professionals and H.I.V. service providers.

Among the speakers is a physician from Operation Abraham, an organization based in Israel and named after the biblical figure who was circumcised at an advanced age, according to the book of Genesis. The group trains doctors in Africa to perform circumcisions on adult men to reduce the spread of H.I.V.

Members of Intact America, a group that opposes newborn circumcision, have rented mobile billboards that will drive around Atlanta carrying their message that “circumcising babies doesn’t prevent H.I.V.,” said Georganne Chapin, who leads the organization.

Although the group’s members oppose circumcision on broad philosophical and medical grounds, Ms. Chapin argued that the studies in Africa found only that circumcision reduces H.I.V. infection risk, not that it prevents infection. “Men still need to use condoms,” Ms. Chapin said.

In fact, while the clinical trials in Africa found that circumcision reduced the risk of a man’s acquiring H.I.V., it was not clear whether it would reduce the risk to women from an infected man, several experts said.

“There’s mixed data on that,” Dr. Kilmarx said. But, he said, “If we have a partially successful intervention for men, it will ultimately lower the prevalence of H.I.V. in the population, and ultimately lower the risk to women.”

Circumcision is believed to protect men from infection with H.I.V. because the mucosal tissue of the foreskin is more susceptible to H.I.V. and can be an entry portal for the virus. Observational studies have found that uncircumcised men have higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases like herpes and syphilis, and a recent study in Baltimore found that heterosexual men were less likely to have become infected with H.I.V. from infected partners if they were circumcised.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company



Birth into being blog - Circumcision

Circumcision is a primal wound that undermines the infant's capacity to establish trust.

According to the Webster’s dictionary, circumcision is a religious rite of the Jews and Muslims. The second definition offered is a cleansing from sin. CIRCUMCISION is a powerful limbic imprint. Because the baby boy is taken into the surgery from his mother’s arms, right after being born, it interferes with bonding and breastfeeding. After the surgery the baby is faced with a very difficult task of re-connecting with the word that just violated his genital integrity. It is a primal wound that undermines his capacity to establish trust.

Circumcision is where sex and violence meet for the first time. It imprints the connection between the brain and penis with pain instead of pleasure. Not one international medical association in the world recommends it. It is not performed in Europe, Russia, Asia and Australia for other then religious purposes.

Circumcision, in medical terms: “Penis Reduction Surgery” was performed until recently on 95% of American male infants”. 2003 statistics are 56%.

The actual procedure is the cutting off the foreskin from the penis. The foreskin (prepuce) is the movable fold of skin on the distal portion of the penis that comprises almost half of the penile skin system. The foreskin has three known functions:

1. Protection. The foreskin covers and protects the urinary opening (meatus), and the glans (head) of the penis, keeping the mucous membrane soft, moist, and sensitive;

2. Sensory. The foreskin contains 20-40,000 highly specialized, erogenous nerves that allow a male to know where he is in relation to the orgasmic trigger. These specialized nerves (Meissner's corpuscles) are nowhere in the body more concentrated than they are in the ridged band encircling the foreskin's opening;

3. Sexual. The foreskin provides the tissue necessary for a full erection and the gliding mechanism necessary for normal sexual function. The ridged band averts with intercourse, exposing the ridged band's concentrated sensory nerve endings. These nerves provide adequate sexual sensations, as well as, when stretched, stimulate the bulbocavernosal muscle responsible for ejaculation.


  1. The foreskin is a normal, protective, sexually functioning organ.

  2. Circumcision is a very painful, imputative surgery with inherent risks, including hemorrhage, infection, surgical mishap, and death.

  3. It is painful even when analgesia is used, because even the administering of anesthesia itself is also painful.

  4. Circumcision leaves both physical and deep psychological scars. It denies a male's right to genital integrity and to a fully functioning penis.

  5. Introduces pain into the genital pleasure.

  6. And most of all it impairs a male’s capacity to trust and introduces pain into the genital pleasure.

The earliest oral history of genital cutting comes from the Dogon tribe in Africa. They believed that people were born dual-gendered and the male part, the clitoris, had to be excised from the female baby and the female part, the foreskin, had to be removed from the male child. So that people would become single gendered and could procreate.

Some claim that Egyptians practiced circumcision, based on a bas relief found in the tomb of Ankhmahor (6th dynasty, c 2300 BC), at Saqqarah, Egypt. Others claim that the boys depicted in the relief were not being circumcised, rather, they were being shaved. Some claim that circumcised Egyptian mummies have been found. Next came Abraham's covenant with God, supposedly around 1700 BC. However, the Genesis 17 text was written over a thousand years after Abraham was supposed to have lived. Discussing religious rites around the globe is not the purpose of this article, so we'll move on to the medical history of circumcision.

During the mid-1800s in the English-speaking countries circumcision was believed to be the cure from masturbation, then believed to cause a myriad of ills, including scoliosis, hernia, gout, kidney disorders, blindness, epilepsy, and insanity. By the turn of the century, the microscope was developed, and a fear of germ became the next excuse. Penile cancer was the fear of the '30s. Cervical cancer was the fear of the '50s. Sexually transmitted diseases were the fear of the '60s. Urinary tract infection was the excuse in the '80s. Also during the '80s, circumcision was believed to prevent AIDS. However, the USA has one of the highest HIV rates, as well as one of the highest circumcision rates in the world.

In American hospitals, until recently, circumcision was routinely performed on a great majority of infants, whose parents were not given proper explanation or were not properly informed that they have a choice. In the last few years, however, there have been a significant decline in statistics: now in California it’s around 20%, on the West Coast in general – around 35%, in Central and Eastern states – 70-80%.

Today, not one national or international medical association in the world recommends circumcision. As with every foreigner who is not from the Middle East, I was in shock when I found out what's being done to the baby boys here in America. I want to share with you what I found out about the history of circumcision.

The ritual of circumcision started thousands of years ago in Africa, in the Dagon tribe. They believed that babies were born double-gendered, that the boys needed to have the female part (foreskin) removed from their genitalia and the girls had to have the male part (clitoris) removed, so they would be able to procreate. They believed that without circumcision they wouldn't be able to have healthy children. Currently, on average, 3 million girls a year are still being circumcised in the Middle East and Africa. They lose their clitoris' in excruciating pain, without anesthesia, without sterilization, with dull blades or a piece of broken glass...

When it started a long time ago it was not about spirituality, just a superstition. But then the tribal leaders (shamans) noticed that uncircumcised people were much more likely to have their own minds and do things their own way, and circumcision became mandatory. It was a way of breaking their spirit, branding of a sort, making of soldiers and slaves.

As Shamans were the ones in power they declared it to be the will of God, who would argue with that... From there it was easy to catch up... Well, maybe it was necessary for the Jews wandering for 40 yrs. in the desert for their hygiene. But as to why is it being done in the US in the 21st century, is a good question. According to the Webster’s dictionary, circumcision is a religious rite of the Jews and Muslims. The second definition offered is a cleansing from sin. Also, parents are not informed how horrible circumcision is. It is happening behind closed doors.

And as far as the subject of spirituality is concerned, I believe that God created the foreskin in the first place. Why would God demand cutting off something from a brand new baby right after it was made? Especially, an exquisitely sophisticated something? That piece of skin has 20,000 very