Understand the trends before claiming outlier status.

The Salt Lake Tribune discusses circumcision trends in Utah.

While Americans have been increasingly rejecting circumcision for their sons for 20 years, new international studies indicate it may dramatically cut the chances of HIV infection.

Will the findings change any parents’ decisions in Utah?

Not likely, say experts, because the state is a holdout, circumcising infants more frequently than surrounding Western states.

This doesn’t surprise me as Utah is a conservative state with a heavily religious population. Circumcising infants falls commonly into accepted practice for that audience, for some reason. There could be more in depth analysis of the religious aspect, but today it’ll be useful to focus on Mormons, since that’s common in Utah. From Moroni 8:8:

Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord, and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me.

That seems pretty clear to me. Of course, when digging further into the article, something just as common appears.

“If you wanted to break it down for Utah, about 90 percent of Caucasians and 2 percent of Hispanics [are circumcised],” Park City pediatrician Karen Lantz said.

Those numbers build to the 54 percent circumcision rate of newborn boys in Utah, which is approximately the national average. The state isn’t on the extreme, other than it’s as extreme as everywhere else that allows infant circumcision. The breakdown also corresponds to why states in the Northeast and West have significantly lower circumcision rates than the South and Midwest. Immigrants don’t tend to circumcise unless they’re convinced that it’s “American”.

There’s more from the article:

“It’s almost exclusively social and cultural reasons,” said Chuck Norlin, division chief of general pediatrics at University Hospital.

Ask yourself if, under that reasoning, doctors who circumcise infants without medical indication act ethically.

2 thoughts on “Understand the trends before claiming outlier status.”

  1. “new international studies indicate it may dramatically cut the chances of HIV infection.”
    And on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. I think Keynes said something like this, but I remember it best from Ed Norton’s character in “Fight Club.”
    So although circumcision may reduce the particular risk of transmission, that is, a circumcised male is less likely (presumably with a 90/95% CI?) to get aids from a single sexual encounter, given enough iterations, we shouldn’t expect there to be any appreciable difference.

  2. That’s the key point, which the studies missed because they ended early. Even if they’d run to completion, studying two years won’t make much of a difference. As you say, irresponsible behavior will result in infection eventually. That’s the point that too many ignore.

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