New York Times Examines Web Site on Male Circumcision
The New York Times on Tuesday examined a new Web site -- launched by the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, Family Health International, and several U.S. and British public health schools -- that aims to serve as a resource on male circumcision and HIV/AIDS. According to the Times, since WHO and UNAIDS two years ago recommended that male circumcision be made available in countries highly affected by HIV/AIDS to help reduce transmission of the virus through heterosexual sex, much "misinformation has circulated" regarding the procedure in some countries. In addition, there has been a "dangerous surge in complications as traditional healers without sterile instruments began offering cheap circumcisions," the Times reports.
The Web site includes scientific studies, policy documents and news articles and aims to address some popular myths, including one that circumcision provides complete protection from HIV, so circumcised men do not need to use condoms, according to Kim Eva Dickson, a WHO medical officer who oversaw the creation of the Web site. It also includes a handbook that demonstrates surgical techniques, although Dickson said that it is not meant to train traditional healers or surgeons. She added that the handbook could help at some small hospitals in rural areas by demonstrating new methods for further investigation and teaching that men need pain management, sex advice and condoms in addition to surgery. According to Dickson, the Web site in its first week has had visitors from the U.S., Switzerland and the United Kingdom, as well as India, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Turkey (McNeil, New York Times, 3/3).