More Evidence for Restraint

Contrary to the newly popular argument that circumcision is an appropriate prevention technique against HIV, consider this trial:

Jacinta Julia Adams Fernandez, a mother of three, is one of 175 Dominican prostitutes lending their bodies to a trial of what New Jersey-based Merck & Co. hopes will prove to be a vaccine against the virus that causes AIDS.

The prostitutes, who will spend much of the next four years traveling to Santo Domingo for injections and checkups, were recruited from brothels across the country. They are among some 3,000 people in eight countries testing the experimental vaccine — a combination of deactivated cold viruses and synthetically produced HIV genes meant to train the body to destroy infected cells.

The article states that the vaccine is in the second of three phases. Each phase is several years long. What should we tell the male circumcised today as an infant, solely to further limit whatever (small) risk of HIV infection he may eventually face, if this vaccine turns out to be effective? We’ve found a better method of prevention, so sorry you had to give up a functioning, healthy body part? Oops? Will those pitiful regrets suffice?

Infant circumcision as a means to prevent HIV is flawed from the start because it’s a clear violation of the child’s rights. But it’s also flawed because there may be a better solution (aside from not engaging in unprotected sex with HIV-positive partners) by the time he’s old enough to begin having sex. Science is not complacent. It does not stand still with “good enough” solutions. That truth should constrain unnecessary actions today. As I’ve said many times and will repeat again, if an adult male wishes to have himself circumcised as an added prevention against HIV, he should have that choice. I don’t have to agree with it or like it. What to do with his body should be his choice.

The same applies to infants. When he becomes sexually active, he should have the choice with all scientific information available at that time. There is a significant difference between an adult circumcising himself now, knowing that a successful vaccine is still, at best, years away, and parents circumcising their son today without knowing what his risk will be, based on his personal behavior and the scientific advancements in the approximately decade-and-a-half until he becomes sexually active. Ignoring the distinction is unethical.

Via Boing Boing.