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Snip, Snip Off the Tip

By on December 5, 2014

You’ve heard of the ‘war on women’ and now there could be ‘circumcision mission for males.’

It’s unlikely the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to explicitly recommend the circumcision of all newborn males, but the agency published guidelines what reads like an endorsement of the common (but still debated) procedure.

It’s the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published recommendations of any kind on the procedure that sees the foreskin covering the head of the penis surgically removed. The draft guidelines, published in the Federal Register, recommend that doctors counsel new parents and uncircumcised males on circumcision’s health benefits.

Despite the complaints of critics that the procedure is unnecessarily painful and can result in infection, the CDC contends that circumcision’s benefits, including a reduced chance of contracting STDs, outweighs the risks. Recent studies have shown that circumcised males are less likely to contract and spread HIV, herpes and HPV.

Despite its endorsement of the procedure, the CDC acknowledged that: “Such decision making is made in the context of not only health considerations, but also other social, cultural, ethical, and religious factors.”

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Three randomized clinical trials showed that adult male circumcision reduced HIV infection risk by 50-60% over time. These trials also found that adult circumcision reduced the risk of men acquiring two common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), herpes simplex virus type-2 (HSV-2) and types of human papilloma virus (HPV) that can cause penile and other anogenital cancers, by 30 percent.

Having been published as a draft recommendation, the guidelines will remain open for public comment through January 16.

For more information, contact the Division of HIV/AIDS, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS D-21, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, phone: 404-639-5200. Email: circumcision@cdc.gov.