(I was going to do an end of year round up type thing. But I think we’ve covered the big stories except for the latest non-sense out of the circumcision camp claiming women just love a circumcised penis. The absurdity of the claim from the same old tired RCT data requires little more than an “um, no” response. All the researcher and self-selection bias that applies to all of their other junk science applies to the latest. And with that, here’s the last post of the year.)
It has been 21 years since I first heard the idea that male circumcision somehow reduced the risk of HIV. For most of those 21 years, rational minds prevailed, and male circumcision never gained funding or much interest in this fight. That all changed in this first decade of the new century when a clever and determined group of circumcision epidemiologists decided to push the idea full force in the context of a demoralized and desperate HIV/AIDS research community.
To be fair, most scientists working hard to find a microbicide, to devise a vaccine, and to formulate prevention campaigns to reach the most affected kept to their areas of research and maintained their drive to improve prevention, treatment, and hopefully one day to find a cure. Perhaps to avoid conflicts that could potentially harm their own efforts, they either ignored the calls or accepted circumcision as proven, granting the agenda-driven scientists the benefit of any doubt since it lay outside of their own areas of research.
It appears that this deference has given the researcher-lobbyists for circumcision the opening to spin out wildly speculative impact, satisfaction, and cost-effectiveness studies that few have questioned. Serious students of their work can see the giant leaps, the stretched conclusions, and the wild-eyed unchallenged optimism, and understand that it’s a disaster unfolding.
This is how we will end the first 10 years of the 21st century. So be it. Let’s accept it for what it is. Let’s go forward and recruit and repeat. Let’s recruit compassionate parents and educators. Let’s find those who will help us. Let’s make individual choices to speak out, to call bullshit, to keep our own children intact so that we can build a movement of millions.
Along the way, let’s encourage those who are with us. Let’s give money to our new and old institutions who are now becoming more visible. Let’s write, speak, tweet, facebook, and do old school tabling at events everywhere that HIV/AIDS is being addressed. Maybe one day most of us will live intact lives although many still will not.
While the very existence of our public activism is no small victory, it isn’t total victory. However, it is progress from where we have stood in the United States with more than half of our boys being mutilated every year for decades now while our adults suffer the highest rate of HIV in the developed world. While we have done a lot, we can and must do more.