Genital Integrity Group Petitions Gates Foundation to Reconsider Circumcision as HIV/AIDS Preventative in Sub-Saharan Africa

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International experts on circumcision, epidemiology and public health, assembled at the Ninth International Symposium on Circumcision, Genital Integrity & Human Rights, signed a petition cautioning the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation against encouraging a policy of mass circumcision in Africa as a way of containing the HIV pandemic.

International experts on circumcision, epidemiology and public health, assembled at the Ninth International Symposium on Circumcision, Genital Integrity & Human Rights signed a petition cautioning the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation against encouraging a policy of mass circumcision in Africa as a way of containing the HIV pandemic.

Participants at the Symposium reviewed recently published claims for the protective effects of circumcision in transmission of HIV among adult African males, and concluded that the studies promoting such claims were speculative, flawed, and misleading.

Further, participants expressed the fear that, were circumcision to be promoted as preventing HIV, transmission of the disease could increase. First, individuals might forgo safe sex practices in the mistaken belief that they are immune from contracting HIV because they are circumcised. Second, because of unsanitary medical practices and conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, mass surgical intervention with contaminated instruments could actually result in the spread of the virus.

Experts at the Symposium called for the Foundation to support public health efforts that have be scientifically proven to be effective in AIDS prevention, including education, the use of condoms, and aggressive research toward development of a vaccine

Since the 1870s, circumcision has been promoted in the United States and other English-speaking countries as preventing masturbation, insanity, epilepsy, tuberculosis, cervical cancer, and other feared diseases. Ultimately, all of these claims have been scientifically disproven, and currently, no professional medical society in the world recommends circumcision as medically necessary. Therefore, participants at the Symposium warn that claims of circumcision’s role in AIDS prevention must be viewed in this context.

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John Geisheker, JD, LLM, Director
Doctors Opposing Circumcision
206-568-0566
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