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The dangers of promoting male circumcision against HIV/AIDS

You recently reported on a study that advocated widespread male circumcision in Africa to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS (see Male circumcision could save millions from HIV/AIDS).

While I am very open to pragmatic solutions to the diversity of problems faced by the African continent, I would caution against sweeping statements such as: "Increasing circumcision to include all men in Africa could prevent six million HIV infections and three million deaths over 20 years, say researchers".

My concern is that the public might see this as justification for gruesome circumcisions used in traditional initiation rituals in Africa.

Three boys have died this year in South Africa's Limpopo province during such rituals. In the Eastern Cape province, circumcisions have claimed 19 lives (see links below).

Furthermore, men might think that they are 'immune' to HIV/AIDS if they are circumcised. The study suggests that if "all" men in Africa are circumcised, it will help to curb HIV/AIDS. But would it not be more practical, and more ethical, to encourage all men to use protection?

As Victor Hugo said, science has the first word on everything, but the last word on nothing. While the researchers whose study you reported present a means of helping curb HIV transmission, they appear to have failed to assess the societal implications of their proposals.

While I am sure that the researchers did not imply that that every man should be circumcised, the assumption that circumcisions could be actively promoted is, bluntly stated, ridiculous.

While the HIV/AIDS situation is horrible, the researchers' 'scientific' solution is even more so.

Circumcision claims yet another life in Limpopo
Eastern Cape circumcision toll reaches 19