The time has come (perhaps has been here a while) to look at influencing the debate viz. the use of male circumcision in HIV prevention.
Obviously, this blog has held a skeptical view of male circumcision from the beginning. This practice has had a very long history of abuse and implementation in an ethical vacuum. The infant variety is in violation of every human rights tenet espoused in universally recognized fora, particularly that of the United Nations.
Today, it is clear the HIV/AIDS problem is likely to take on vector status in spreading the urge to mutilate. As has been noted below, the Stallings et al. study is no less supportive of female circumcision in HIV prevention. See (Stallings Abstract of Study.)It has gotten less press in the US, but it has not gone unnoticed in Africa. Viewing male and female circumcision as one problem instead of two, HIV/AIDS is driving a ruinous path through communities in more ways than one.
Hence, the question must be asked, do we outright oppose circumcision in all its varieties as a prophylactic measure on human rights grounds? Or do we seek to contain it by arguing it has a severely limited (but) appropriate place of implementation?
The Forum for Collaborative HIV Research has called for an independent body to oversee HIV prevention strategies to “reach out to stakeholders; facilitate the design and testing of
combination products; share information; establish links between donors and stakeholders; fill gaps in knowledge; reduce research duplication; and make recommendations regarding use of resources.”
This could be a positive development if the public could mobilize to lobby this body in favor of ethical approaches to the use of circumcision. To draw on Margaret Mead‘s observation of societal change, the public may end up being a small but dedicated group of human rights activists.
More on the call for an independent body for HIV prevention research oversight after the break.
[Feb 23, 2007]
“A New Era for HIV Prevention?” Forum for Collaborative HIV Research: The report says that with the increasing number of HIV prevention methods — including male circumcision, microbicides, female barrier methods, vaccines and pre-exposure prophylaxis — approaching Phase III clinical trials, the research field should find ways to support the capacity of trial sites; fill gaps in scientific knowledge; encourage collaboration among researchers and donors without hindering innovation; promote ownership of clinical trials among host communities; and prepare for worldwide delivery of new prevention methods. The report recommends the creation of an independent body to establish priorities and encourage collaboration. According to the report, the body would reach out to stakeholders; facilitate the design and testing of combination products; share information; establish links between donors and stakeholders; fill gaps in knowledge; reduce research duplication; and make recommendations regarding use of resources (Forum for Collaborative HIV Research release, 2/23).
Staff writers. Report Recommends Independent Body to Oversee HIV Prevention Research. Kaisernetworks.org, Daily Reports. February 23, 2007.