Main | Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cut Rated

Yesterday's news of a U.S. study conducted in Africa revealing that male circumcision may cut (ahem) HIV infections by 50% for men who have unprotected sex with women, is interesting. The researchers stopped the study before it was completed, citing ethicial problems with continuing the experiment in the face of early overwhelming evidence that circumcised men had a much lower rate of infection. Apparently, the skin cells that lie under a man's foreskin are especially susceptible to the HIV virus, making it easier for women to pass to virus to their male partners. Other studies of this sort have been done in recent years, but this is the most compelling. All of the men in the study have now been offered circumcision, with 80% agreeing.

What does this mean to gay men? Possibly, not much. Evidence thus far has pointed to the bulk of risk during gay sex being to the receptive partner. Will American doctors now recommend that U.S. gay men also get circumcised? That recommendation would presume a lack of condom usage, and I think some would say it would be a defacto encouragement of barebacking for circumcized tops. Or would it just fall under the umbrella of "harm reduction"? Will this new information presage a lessening of the fetishization of uncut men here?

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