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Promoting male circumcision to “fight” HIV in Africa.

The Gates Foundation (GF) has been supporting male circumcision as an “HIV prevention strategy” in Africa for over 3 years — and receiving grants to implement this policy in Africa.

The 3 studies (by the same group of researchers) used by GF and others to promote male circumcision as a way to reduce HIV transmission (from females to males only) has been thoroughly criticized and debunked by other scientists for its poor methodology and researcher bias. (The scientists who conducted the trials are known to be pro-circumcision.) Other problems with the study include selection bias, not investigating non-sexual transmission (which appears to be a hefty percentage), and the fact that the trials stopped early, resulting in exaggerated treatment effects. (Read the critique by Boyle and Hill, as well as one by Van Howe and Storms.)

The Gates Foundation’s support of mass circumcision of men in Africa is of further concern as it perpetuates the colonialist tradition of white people telling people of Color what to do with their bodies. The activities of the Gates Foundation in this realm could be considered coercive and an infringement upon the rights of Africans.

No thought is given to the negative effects of circumcisions, including complications, botched procedures, and the well-known reduction of sensitivity of the penis and how this affects sexual behavior (it could reduce condom usage). Furthermore, there is mounting evidence that the majority of new HIV infections are not due to sex, but due to unclean medical procedures, etc. (Read “How the circumcision solution in Africa will increase HIV infections”  and “HIV and circumcision: new factors to consider“.)

We can only hope that the Gates Foundation and other western organizations like PEPFAR (who are promoting male circumcision in Africa) don’t start recommending that African baby boys start being circumcized for “HIV prevention.” That would be a violation of their rights as they are not old enough to consent to this unnecessary procedure with risk of death and injury.

Furthermore, all the press around circumcision “preventing” HIV transmission in Africa has led to African men assuming they need not use condoms if they are circumcised. This will lead to higher rates of HIV, not lower. Education and condoms are the solution, not circumcision.

"All lives have equal value"? The Gates Foundation isn't pressuring American or European men to get circumcised...