Benefits of male circumcision outweigh risks, CDC says

Benefits of male circumcision outweigh risks, CDC says
​The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that years’ of research and mounds of medical evidence suggests the benefits of male circumcision outweigh the risks.

The CDC stopped short of fully advocating for circumcision in all circumstances this week, but rather released a draft containing federal recommendations for health care providers concerning the procedure that will now be open for comment during the next month and a half.

Clinical trials conducted over the course of five years in sub-Saharan Africa has led officials with the CDC in the United States to conclude this week that circumcision can prove to be a powerful factor in diminishing a male’s risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infections, including types of the human papilloma virus (HPV) and herpes, as well potential urinary tract infections during infancy.

“Until recently, prevention of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection was unlikely to factor in the decision to circumcise a male newborn or boy, although other preventive health benefits of male circumcision may have been considered. However, data now indicate that male circumcision reduces the risk of male HIV acquisition through penile-vaginal sex,” reads an accompanying document filed by the CDC this week on Regulations.gov.

"The benefits of male circumcision have become more and more clear over the last 10 years," Dr. Aaron Tobian, a Johns Hopkins University researcher involved in one of the African studies, told the Associated Press.

Although the draft paper notes that social, cultural, ethical and religious factors play a part in deciding whether or not an infant male should have their foreskin removed, CDC officials now believe that doing such can decrease the risk of contracting HIV by 60 percent over time, and reduces the odds of testing positive for certain cancers by a third.

Among the recommendations listed by the CDC are Consideration of factors associated with decision making; Counseling sexually active adolescent and adult males regardless of circumcision status; Counseling uncircumcised sexually active adolescent and adult males; and Counseling parents of male newborns, children, or adolescents.

“These recommendations are based on an evaluation of available information on the health risks and benefits associated with high-quality, medically performed male circumcision and were developed to pertain to men and male newborns in the United States,” the CDC report reads in part. “In these recommendations, the preventive benefits of male circumcision are generally expressed as relative-risk reductions (e.g., a 50% reduction from a 2% risk of an STI to a 1% risk), whereas any associated harm is expressed as an absolute risk (e.g., a 2-4% risk of adverse events).”

The CDC plans to finalize their formal guidelines next year after the 45-day commenting process ends in January.