Circumcision protects against HIV in Africa

Now that Russell Crowe and the San Francisco City Council have come out against male circumcision, in their collective wisdom, it might be worth pointing out that medical scientists have long known that circumcision protects against HIV transmission in Africa.

Also syphilis.

A number of African cultures practice circumcision; some of them don't. It is therefore easy to compare the HIV rate in areas that have it versus the ones that don't. Scientific American published a famous cover story about that finding a couple of decades ago. The biomedical database shows no less than 822 scientific articles from peer-reviewed journals on that very question.

Did somebody forget to tell the San Francisco Chronicle? I'll bet.

According to British researcher H.A. Weiss, writing in Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases

"In 2005, 4.1 million people were infected with HIV. There is an urgent need to intensify and expand HIV prevention methods. Male circumcision is one of several potential approaches.

"SUMMARY: There is strong evidence that male circumcision reduces risk of HIV, syphilis and chancroid. If results are confirmed by two ongoing trials in sub-Saharan Africa, provision of safe male circumcision could be added to HIV prevention packages in high-incidence settings. This would also provide an opportunity for HIV-prevention education and counselling to young men at high risk of infection."

San Francisco was one of the early epicenters of the AIDS epidemic. You might think that somebody over there might tell the City Council about circumcision as a way to stop the spread of AIDS, especially among those who practice anal intercourse.

See what you can learn when you look at real science rather than the media-fabricated kind?

What San Francisco needs is a public health campaign to get every male circumcised, and the sooner the better.