The End of Male Circumcision and HIV

I want to thank all the people who have read this blog over the years. There hasn’t been much new in the last 7 or 8 of those years. Apologies for that.

When I moved this blog over from Typepad to WordPress about 10 years ago, I encountered a lot of tech issues that never got resolved. Hence, over 300 older posts remained in the queue to be reformatted and made readable again. I’ve decided in the last year or so that most aren’t of sufficient interest or current value to spend the time and effort to republish.

Meanwhile, not republishing those old posts is a burden in the back of my mind that I need to let go of. In any event, much of the site remains in the Internet Archives.

Therefore, I’m moving on, simplifying, and possibly starting something new in the intactivist space. However, I’m in the last stretch of my career-slash-day job. So, it won’t be for a while.

Thanks and keep fighting.

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Canadian study concludes circumcision doesn’t reduce HIV risk

A new study that involved a massive 569,950 males over a 15 year period has shown no protective effect from circumcision against HIV.

The authors concluded, “We found that circumcision was not independently associated with the risk of acquiring HIV among males from Ontario, Canada. Our results are consistent with clinical guidelines that emphasize safe-sex practices and counselling over circumcision as an intervention to reduce the risk of HIV.”

This is yet more evidence that HIV doesn’t care that you’re circumcised, and claiming that it does is yet more misinformation in a misinformation age.


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BRIAN EARP: Circumcision – a sexual harm?

“Gender, Genital Alteration, and Beliefs About Bodily Harm” — Lecture by Brian D. Earp delivered at the 23rd Congress of the World Association for Sexual Health, Prague, May 29th, 2017. A critique of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2012 policy on circumcision, showing that their assessment of benefit and risk was unsound.

For a formal paper discussing some of these ideas, see: “Cultural Bias in American Medicine: The Case of Infant Male Circumcision” in the Journal of Pediatric Ethics.

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Was Spencer Elden abused on Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album cover?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know he suffered genital cutting without his consent. That much is clear.

In this #metoo era, where is the outrage that someone took a knife to his genitals and then his mother allowed the display of that fact to the world on 30 million album covers?

Ordinary people shouldn’t view non-sexualized nudity of children as, well, sexual! But I would venture that most do.

Ordinary people should respect the bodies of babies. Most American parents and American medicine don’t.

My verdict in light of Spencer Elden’s lawsuit against the band is that he was not abused because of the nudity. He was abused because he was made to be the face of our secret American shame and what it reveals about the American way of birth and parents that don’t protect their children.

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Robert Darby, Rest in Peace

Robert DarbyRobert Darby has passed away. He was the author of A Surgical Temptation: The Demonization of the Foreskin and the Rise of Circumcision in Britain (1st Ed., 2005).

While I never met him personally, I knew him from his writings and collaborations with others, particularly Steven Svoboda (ARC Law) and Brian Earp.

Brian sent out this email (edited slightly to remove contact info) with details of their collaboration and Robert’s death.

Dear friends and colleagues,

It is with extreme sadness that I write to tell you that Robert Darby has died. Rob was a giant in the fight for children’s rights. He was a learned historian, a moral philosopher, a skeptic, a literary critic, and an activist in the cause of social justice (on so many fronts). Whatever area of scholarship he took up, his contributions were always brilliant, measured, and deeply-informed. He made important contributions in several fields, from medical history and sexuality studies to anthropology to bioethics. With J. Steven Svoboda, he wrote the landmark paper, “A Rose By Any Other Name: Rethinking the Similarities and Differences between Male and Female Genital Cutting,” published originally in Medical Anthropology Quarterly and later expanded and republished in an edited volume (here). This was a truly brave essay, shattering dogmas with impeccable erudition and a gentle touch, paving the way for future scholars to think the unthinkable and say the unsayable in the name of protecting all children from medically unnecessary genital cutting.

His book, A Surgical Temptation: the Demonization of the Foreskin and the Rise of Circumcision in Britain (Chicago University Press, 2013), is a modern classic: a disturbing, astonishing, and painstakingly researched account of the insidious power of cultural and sexual prejudice to undermine medical practice. Rob’s sparkling wit and vast understanding come through on every page.

He was a profoundly moral person, using his energy, skill, and intellect to advocate–day after day–for the most vulnerable among us. He lived his life with incredible wisdom and virtue, as a loyal friend, a patient colleague, a careful scholar, and tireless defender of human rights.

Rob’s work and spirit have touched the lives of so many. He was a kind and sensitive person. For me personally, he was a dear friend and constant mentor, through good times and bad. To say he will be missed is not enough.

There are two short notices of death published in local Australian newspapers. Please consider leaving a memory or condolence.

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Now is a time to grieve. We will look to ways of properly honoring Rob’s memory and celebrating his life and work in the coming months.

Brian D. Earp

New Haven, CT

April 23, 2019

Robert and his contributions will be missed.

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