U.S. Campaign To Promote Circumcision Would Be ‘Premature,’ Time is Right for Dialogue on Issue, Letter to Editor Says
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene "has not planned, developed or announced a campaign to encourage at-risk men to get circumcised," but the department is "encouraging people to discuss and study this issue," city Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden writes in a New York Times letter to the editor (Frieden, New York Times, 4/12). UNAIDS and the World Health Organization last month recommended the procedure as a way to help reduce the spread of HIV in response to growing evidence that routine male circumcision could reduce a man's risk of contracting HIV through heterosexual sex. According to final data from two NIH-funded studies conducted in Uganda and Kenya published in the Feb. 23 issue of the journal Lancet, routine male circumcision could reduce a man's risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex by 65%. The New York City health department has begun asking community organizations and gay advocacy groups to discuss male circumcision with members and has requested that the Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs hospitals and clinics in the city, provide circumcisions at no cost for men who lack health insurance. The administration of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it has not decided if it will pursue the campaign (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/6). "Because circumcision has the potential to decrease HIV transmission by more than half," the health department hopes that men who want to receive the procedure "will have access to it," Frieden writes. A campaign to promote circumcision in the U.S. would be "premature without stronger evidence, but the time is right for a communitywide dialogue," he concludes (New York Times, 4/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.