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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 4, 2007 / 18 Sivan, 5767

Mass circumcise Africans?

By Michael Gerson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Warning: The following contains the use of the word "penis" by a conservative columnist.


Circumcision is an, ahem, uncomfortable topic. The traditional Jewish bris calls this medical procedure a sign of blessing on the newcomer. Ten out of 10 male infants seem to disagree.


During World War II, American soldiers were often circumcised to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — another hidden sacrifice of the Greatest Generation. From the 1950s to the mid-1970s, the circumcision of American newborn boys became increasingly common. Then a minor backlash set in, and circumcision rates declined for a time. Today the American Academy of Pediatrics takes a neutral stance, leaving the decision up to parents.


But suddenly Uncle Irving seems pretty wise. Studies in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa indicate circumcision halves the risk of adult males contracting HIV through heterosexual intercourse. An author of one of those studies, Robert Bailey of the University of Illinois at Chicago, told me, "There is nothing else currently out there in public health or HIV prevention with protection results this compelling." Studies are ongoing to see if male circumcision protects women from transmission — researchers suspect it might but are waiting for the evidence. The benefit for men, however, is increasingly undeniable.


Why does circumcision help prevent AIDS? The foreskin of the penis — the part removed in circumcision — has a high concentration of cells that bring HIV into the body. A circumcised male is exposed to less HIV virus during sexual relations, and has less chance of being infected.


This helps explain one of the great mysteries of HIV in Africa: why infection rates vary so widely across the continent. The most mind-numbing levels of infection — sometimes upward of 30 percent — are concentrated in regions of southern Africa where most men are uncircumcised. Massive infection rates seem to be associated with uncircumcised males, ulcerative STDs and having many concurrent sexual partners. Researchers hope that broader circumcision will remove a contributor to this deadly cycle.


As you'd expect, there are cultural obstacles to broader circumcision in Africa. Circumcision, or the lack of it, can be a matter of cultural identity, distinguishing Christians from Muslims (who, like Jews, are traditionally circumcised), and even dividing ethnic groups within a country. But surveys in Africa indicate an openness to the procedure among uncircumcised Christians. One researcher, Maria Wawer of Johns Hopkins University, says, "A response we got was, 'Well, what's the big deal? Jesus was circumcised.' "


There are also practical obstacles. Like any operation, circumcision presents a risk of infection. Much of Africa lacks the equipment and personnel to perform the procedure on a large scale. But similar arguments were made against the possibility of AIDS treatment. A concerted American and international commitment proved that pessimism to be unjustified.


The main problem with circumcision is that it is only partially protective. If a newly circumcised male stops using condoms or increases his number of partners out of a false sense of invulnerability, his risk of getting AIDS rises, along with the risk of giving it. The Uganda and Kenya studies found no increase in risky sexual behavior after circumcision. But clearly health education will be required. "People will still need to use condoms consistently," Bailey says, "still need to reduce their partners, still need to practice faithfulness."


As circumcision scales up, the reductions in overall infection rates will be gradual. But the implications for the individual man in Africa are dramatic. A $40 or $50 procedure can cut his risk of HIV infection in half. Giving him that option is a matter of moral urgency.


That begins with African governments. Both routine infant circumcision and adult circumcision must be considered, especially in the areas of highest infection. International donors need to aggressively support African circumcision programs with new resources. And European governments, which have refused to deal with this issue, need to start respecting the data and lend their support.


Circumcision has played a mixed role in history. During the worst days of the India-Pakistan partition in the 1940s, Muslims ambushed trains and murdered every uncircumcised male, knowing they were Hindus. Hindus used the same method to identify Muslims.


Today this source of division is becoming a source of hope that could eventually save many lives. When it comes to AIDS, circumcision is the kindest cut.


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Comment on Michael Gerson's column by clicking here.




Previously:


05/30/07: A Big Enough Stick for Sudan

© 2007, WPWG

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