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Circumcising 14-year-olds

December 22, 2013

A quarter million boys

The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has just published its latest statistics for mass circumcision campaigns in Africa (click here).   Since December 2011, about 2 million African men from countries or tribes that don’t normally practice circumcision have been operated on, courtesy of Uncle Sam, i.e. funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The idea is that if you can’t or won’t wear a condom, circumcision halves your risk of catching HIV via sex. We can debate whether that’s really true, but I guess if well informed adults think it’s worth the bother, good luck to them.

Table 3 (click here and scroll down) shows the age distribution (excluding neonates) for operations done in CDC centres, about half the total. Well over a quarter, 265,000/986,000 (27%) were on boys aged 14 or under. If non-CDC centres are similar, about half a million boys this age, who would not otherwise be undergoing the procedure, have been circumcised in the last two years.

The randomised trials of circumcision to prevent HIV excluded boys this young. Two, South Africa (click here) and Kenya (click here), were limited to age 18 and over, and the third, Uganda (click here), to 15 or over. 

Are these boys really fully informed? Most teenage boys presented with a proposal to cut off their foreskins would run a mile, so traditional societies, circumcising at this time, exert pressure to conform. “Get it done, or you’ll never get laid!”

Are modern African boys paragons of preventive medicine, or is similar pressure being brought to bear?

Jim Thornton

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2013 11:50 am

    Reblogged this on oogenhand and commented:
    Does raise interesting questions around the age of consent…

  2. pureform 2000 permalink
    December 23, 2013 4:40 pm

    Supporters of circumcision also argue that excrements may collect under the foreskin which may lead to fatal diseases such as cancer.


    Date: Sun, 22 Dec 2013 17:01:14 +0000

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