Sunday, September 19, 2010


It would seem that The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), spent $823,200 of economic stimulus funds in 2009 on a study by a UCLA research team to teach uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex. (According to CNSNews.)

That in and of itself is great idea I think. I've asked before why more effort has not been put into teaching African men genital hygiene. But I think this is the backwards part.
Because AIDS researchers have been unsuccessful in convincing most adult African men to undergo circumcision, the UCLA study proposes to determine whether researchers can develop an after-sex genitalia-washing regimen that they can then convince uncircumcised African men to follow.
So let me get this straight. The thought of teaching those men genital hygiene is coming AFTER the thought of convincing them to have their foreskins removed?

You see this is the part burns me to no end about the "health benefits" of circumcision. People go on and on about how it helps prevent AIDS/HIV. I'm sure it does. But at the same time I find it almost sad that people first thought to remove the foreskin and study its effects before teaching men how to keep the foreskin clean and studying those effects.

I don't know about you but it would seem to me that people would try cleaning something before going straight to cutting it off. People try radiation/chemo-therapy before amputating body parts in cancer cases. People try to treat infection before cutting off body parts. In most other cases as medical technology has advanced people try nearly everything under the sun they can think of and resort to cutting off body parts as a last resort. But somehow that is not the case here.


Toysoldier said...

Of course they thought of teaching men how to care for themselves as an afterthought. Anything else would have suggested some kind of actual forethought rather than a knee-jerk reaction. As for circumcision preventing HIV/AIDS, the researchers who made this claim stopped the research about a third of the way into it. To my knowledge, no one else has tried to replicate the "results" of that study. That at best makes the claim that circumcision prevents HIV/AIDS dubious.

Paul said...

I'm also a little skeptical of the research, because it seems to only apply to Africa. everywhere else? Not so much. Japan, for instance hardly circumcises yet has one of the lowest population of HIV patients, whereas we here in the states (who arguably circumcise the most- at least in the West) are sitting in the 10th place, and thats including third world countries. (disclaimer... got the stats from the Wiki... so yeah.)

Danny said...

And it really bothers me that genital hygiene is an afterthought behind simply cutting it off.

Danny said...

Exactly Paul. It seems that in the States when people are trying to push for circumcision they pull up stats on African men and magically ignore the fact that most boys in the States are already circumcised at pretty high rates yet the HIV/AIDS rate is still rather high.

Sex education is a heavily contested topic these days. Perhaps if these boys were getting something more than abstinence sex ed they would be better prepared against STDs. I think teaching genital hygiene should in those curriculums right along side the use of safe and proven birth control methods (not myths that they heard from someone) and anything else that might fall into sex education.