During the last several years, adult male circumcision has become a highly promoted form of risk reduction when it comes to HIV. Some studies have shown that circumcision may reduce the chances of acquiring HIV by as much as 60%. So, in the places in Africa were HIV is the most prevalent, there are now many subsidized programs to encourage and implement adult male circumcision. There are many potential issues here – like that circumcision could be used as leverage to argue for sex without a barrier, and could mean that people who have sex with these men will be less able to get their partners to use condoms. (Check out our post Think Before You Snip for more.)
This week, The Times in Johannesburg published a piece about new conversations happening about the feasibility of circumcising baby’s penises to prevent HIV later in their lives. It’s a simple procedure that is done all over the world for religious and aesthetic reasons and here in the United States is not regarded as being a big deal.
Of course, it can be argued that we should take reasonable medical steps to prevent the transmission of HIV. However, a baby cannot consent to this procedure. And though circumcision of penises is accepted as a minor surgery, it is just as nonconsensual as genital cutting on the vulva and surgeries that intersex babies are subjected to at the recommendation of medical practitioners.