Source: Asbury Park Press.com
U.S. health officials released a draft of long-awaited federal guidelines on circumcision, saying medical evidence supports having the procedure done and health insurers should pay for it…The CDC started working on the guidelines about seven years ago, when a cluster of influential studies in Africa indicated circumcision might help stop spread of the AIDS virus…In the new guidelines, the CDC says there is now strong evidence that male circumcision can:
— Cut a man’s risk of getting HIV from an infected female partner by 50 to 60 percent.
— Reduce their risk of genital herpes and certain strains of human papillomavirus by 30 percent or more.
— Lower the odds of urinary tract infections during infancy, and cancer of the penis in adulthood.
The thinking on circumcision has swung wildly over the years. It’s been practiced by Jews and Muslims for thousands of years, but didn’t become common in this country until the 20th century. By one estimate, only 25 percent of U.S. male newborns were circumcised in 1900. It gradually became the cultural norm, and in the 1950s and 1960s surpassed 80 percent. But then the trend reversed.
Part of it had to do with changing demographics, as the U.S. population grew to include larger numbers of…ethnic groups that didn’t traditionally circumcise their children. Also, opposition to the procedure grew from advocates who decried the pain, bleeding and risk of infections to newborns. Their message was aided by the Internet and by the neutral stance of physicians groups — including, for a time, the American Academy of Pediatrics. A wave of state Medicaid programs stopped paying for newborn circumcisions, which cost roughly $150 to $200…
By 2010 the newborn circumcision rate was down to about 58 percent, according to one CDC estimate. But even as the circumcision rate dropped, more medical evidence came in supporting it — particularly three rigorous and influential studies in Africa that looked at the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in circumcised and uncircumcised men and their partners.
Studies have not shown that circumcision will reduce an HIV-infected man’s chances of spreading the AIDS virus to women. And research has not found circumcision to be a help in stopping spread of HIV during gay sex.
The…guidelines stop short of telling parents to get their newborn sons circumcised…(but) recommend (that) doctors tell parents of baby boys of the benefits and risks of circumcision. Because circumcision can be beneficial to men as well, the CDC says information about the procedure also should be given to sexually active uncircumcised men — especially men considered to be at higher risk of catching HIV, the guidelines say…
The guidelines have been published in the federal register (Click here). For the next 38 days, the CDC will receive public comment before finalizing them next year.