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CDC Endorses Circumcision for Health Reasons

Photograph by Getty Images

Circumcision benefits outweigh the risks, the draft of new federal guidelines state. Moreover, the proposed policy argues, medical evidence indicates support for surgical removal of a newborn boy's foreskin and insurers should pay for it.

These guidelines just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't go as far as recommending that all baby boys undergo the procedure. However, these first federal guidelines for circumcision say studies showing a lowered risk for HIV infection, based on studies of males in several countries in Africa, attest to the benefits of the procedure.

"The benefits of male circumcision have become more and more clear over the last 10 years," Dr. Aaron Tobian, a Johns Hopkins University researcher involved in one of the African studies, told the Associated Press.

For the next 45 days, the CDC will receive comments on the draft of these guidelines before they are finalized next year.

The federal agency expects strong pushback from anti-circumcision groups, who have become increasingly vocal and organized in their opposition to circumcision. One group even tried to put the legality of circumcision to a vote in San Francisco, where it was later struck from a city voting ballot.

Circumcision rates around the U.S. have been dropping, in some regions significantly. The CDC estimates 58 percent of males born in 2010 were circumcised.

Among the benefits, according to the guidelines:

  • Lower risk of getting HIV from an infected female partner by 50 to 60 percent.
  • Reduced risk of genital herpes and certain strains of human papillomavirus by 30 percent or more.
  • Lower odds of urinary tract infections during infancy, and cancer of the penis in adulthood.

MORE: To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise

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