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Experts Denounce CDC’s ‘Blind Promotion’ of Circumcision in Proposed Federal Regulations

Experts challenge claims behind proposed federal recommendations on circumcision
CDC Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia
CDC Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia / CDC

Last Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its proposed guidelines on male circumcision for public comment. The new federal guidelines would recommend male circumcision as a healthy choice that doctors should offer for parents to make for their sons and for teenagers and adults to consider. The CDC background report claims that circumcision has been shown to prevent HIV, HPV and other infections. The new CDC report mimics the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics Circumcision Policy Statement which drew widespread criticism for its claim that circumcision benefits outweigh the risks.

IntactNews asked the CDC for comment about the risks for an average American male in acquiring HIV. “It’s hard to establish one, single figure for risk of HIV acquisition by a heterosexual male,” the CDC responded in an email to IntactNews today, saying the risks are not well documented.

One study estimates the chance of an American male acquiring HIV through a single unprotected sex act with a known HIV+ female partner is less than 0.04%. That adds up to a 6% risk per year, with an estimated total of 620 new HIV infections per year for white, heterosexual males with known HIV+ or high-risk female partners.

What these numbers show is that the average American man has a comparably low risk of getting HIV through unprotected sex. In fact, the number of average American men getting infected with HIV per year is so low that the CDC does not have data on this demographic.

Circumcision Malpractice Lawyer Weighs in

“It is ludicrous and scientifically unsound to recommend the removal of a normal body part from all males to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases that can be prevented by ABC—practicing abstinence, being faithful and using condoms,” says David Llewellyn, an Atlanta-based attorney whose practice focuses on botched and wrongful circumcisions. “The idea that doctors should counsel teenage boys to get circumcised rather than teaching them ABC is equally absurd.

“Furthermore, the CDC recommendations completely ignore the known functions of the foreskin, how circumcision changes the penis, and the hidden but well recognized common injuries that happen every day as a direct result of neonatal circumcision.

“In my practice, I see the devastating results of circumcision every day. In particular, the high rate of the narrowing of the urinary opening (meatal stenosis) which occurs to tens of thousands of circumcised boys every year. This is not sufficiently addressed by the CDC, even though it is a well-known complication of circumcision.

“The CDC needs to be paying more than lip service to the devastating effects of these injuries. ”

Pediatric Specialist Weighs in

“It is regrettable that the CDC has chosen to position itself on the wrong side of scientific evidence with its endorsement of circumcision for male newborns and heterosexual adult males,” says Dr. Alexandre T. Rotta,  Chief of Pediatric  Critical Care at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. “By cherry-picking data that, at best, have marginal relevance (if any) in parts of Africa with high heterosexual HIV transmission, the CDC recommendation is empty, counterintuitive, and irrelevant to the health of the very Americans it aims to protect.

“As a pediatrician, I am deeply troubled by this form of government-endorsed mutilation of children, fragile human beings who will forever be robbed of the right to make an informed decision on such a deeply personal matter carrying irreversible consequences. This is an egregious violation of personal autonomy and medical ethics.”

Public comments have been pouring in. As of today, over 288 comments are posted on a government website. Public commenting on the CDC’s circumcision guidelines will be open until January 16, 2015 at 11:59PM.


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