A Correction and Further Proof

I’ve noted the correction in the original entry, but yesterday I incorrectly identified the author of the referenced editorial as a female. Hilary Bainemigisha is a male. The article did not make it clear, but I shouldn’t have made the mistake.

Thankfully, in submitting my entry, Digg user actics linked to a blog entry from the 4th International AIDS Society. The entry that actics used to (easily) figure out Mr. Bainemigisha’s gender is quite telling, given the irrationality Mr. Bainemigisha’s editorial endorsed. The setup:

[Dr Andrew Grulich of Australia’s National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research] said doctors in one well-run Kenyan circumcision study detected a slight but statistically significant increase in HIV infections among circumcised men at the end of the study, when they seemed to have become overly confident that circumcision would protect them completely from HIV and did away with using condoms, despite the warnings of the study organisers. Despite the slight increase in the number of circumcised men who became infected with HIV, it should be noted that overall, far fewer of the circumcised men became infected, in comparison with the control group of uncircumcised men.

The first sentence is the key, but it’s amazing how readily people are to focus only on that second sentence (which has its own problems, when considered in context).

But at 50% protection, there is nothing better than circumcision right now for men.

OK, condoms work brilliantly. But people don’t use them. (For example, Ansbert has two children, so presumably he didn’t use condoms at least twice in his life. And look at all those men, circumcised or not, who were told to use condoms and didn’t in the Kenyan study.)

The example of fathering children is irrelevant, and the “look at all those men” doesn’t mean what is interpreted here. But don’t worry, it gets worse.

With circumcision, a man doesn’t have to remember!

Without condoms and monogamy, he will still get HIV. With condoms and monogamy, circumcision is unnecessary.

So many want to have so much faith in circumcision that they abandon all rational consideration of the facts to make the story conform to the predetermined solution. It’s just as easy to believe in unicorns, but that doesn’t make unicorns real. Common sense has a place in medicine.

Thanks go to Digg user actics for this useful help. I shouldn’t have made the mistake on Mr. Bainemigisha’s gender. It’s been corrected. But my analysis didn’t depend on the journalist’s gender; it remains. Individuals who think like Mr. Bainemigisha and Esther Nakkazi, who wrote the blog entry discussed here, are being irrational.