Been There, Done That: Thoughts on the Proposition That Yet More Circumcision Can Save the World from AIDS
Australian Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 5 (Sep.-Oct., 2002), pp. 26-35, 40.
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The scare over HIV-AIDS is the main reason why circumcision is on the rise today, even in parts of the world where it had never been thought of. Advocates of the operation are making strident and widely reported claims that the destruction of supposedly vulnerable genital tissue provides significant protection against the deadly virus, and some people are frightened enough by the spectre of this terrible disease to be willing to try anything: doing something, no matter how harmful, immoral or ineffective, seems to be better than doing nothing. But in their eagerness to take action, some medical researchers seem to be treading the same dead-end paths beaten by nineteenth century physicians who claimed that universal male circumcision was the only way to defeat syphilis, then an equally fearsome and incurable disease. In this article I suggest that it would be a pity to repeat the mistakes of the past.