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Decline in circumcisions could cost billions
Declining circumcision rates in the United States could wind up costing billions later, researchers warn.
August 21st, 2012
10:15 AM ET

Decline in circumcisions could cost billions

As the number of American parents increasingly leave their baby boys uncircumcised, HIV and other sexually transmitted disease rates are likely to climb, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, and the costs associated with those diseases could reach into the billions.

"The medical benefits of male circumcision are quite clear," said Dr. Aaron Tobian, an assistant professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. "But while the medical evidence has been increasingly more positive, male circumcision rates in the U.S. have been decreasing."

Specifically, he says, circumcision rates had been fairly stable in the 1970s, at about 79%. By 1999, he says less than 63% of boys had the procedure, and by 2010, the rate had dropped to 55%.

What's more, state-run and private insurance companies in at least 18 states have dropped coverage for male circumcision - a procedure that can cost between $250 and $300 without insurance coverage, causing even more parents to pass on the procedure for male infants.

Jews, Muslims slam German circumcision ruling as assault on religion

"If circumcision rates decrease to 10% - the levels seen in Europe where insurance coverage is limited - the direct medical costs associated with that drop could exceed $4 billion," said Tobian.

That added cost, he says, is largely from an increase in HIV infections and human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers he believes would result from the drop in circumcisions.

Should teens make circumcision decision?

"Three randomized trials have demonstrated that male circumcision decreases HIV, male herpes, and HPV - the virus that causes cervical and penile cancer," Tobian said. "As male circumcision rates increase, you decrease HIV acquisition among men. Later down the road, because fewer men are infected, you'd have less transmission."

As a result of this study, Tobian says he's calling on the American Academy of Pediatrics, other advocacy groups and insurance companies to pave the way for more circumcisions.

"We should eliminate all of the current barriers that are in the way of individuals receiving this procedure," he said. "Once we do that, families can discuss the risks and the benefits of having the procedure with their physicians, and then can make an informed decision."

Circumcising our son: How do we decide?

The debate over circumcision has been ongoing for years. Critics of the procedure maintain it is not medically necessary, carries the risk of complications and pain and that foreskins are a part of the natural body that help protect the penis.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is expected to release an updated position paper supporting the health benefits of male circumcision by the end of this month.

California governor signs law preventing male circumcision ban


soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. curiousgeorge

    Some people protest too much!

    August 22, 2012 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • forum rant

      this article and that docotr's statemetns are completely baseless ..there are about a billion men in india & china without these procedures..why don't u provide the statistics from them..

      August 23, 2012 at 09:58 | Report abuse |
    • JP

      With some of these comments, it is evident that science and reason are no longer valued. Much better to save a foreskin than to spread or die of AIDS!!

      August 29, 2012 at 00:35 | Report abuse |
  2. Mark

    Dr. Aaron Tobian, any thoughts on etnicity of the author? This study is sponsored and conducted by jewish lobby (direct or most probably indirect, those who even dont understand where their thoughts and believes came from). If you still believe in the nonsence of circs you fall for many years of BSing your brain about benefits of it. Im a jew, i know it. There is absolutely no medical reason to do it but faith, and it's pitty when someone tries to show othervise just to have upper hand in a discussion.

    August 22, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. NickZadick

    Some people believe ridiculous fairy tales are real!

    August 22, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • vandalii

      Which fairy tale? The one with a peer-reviewed study behind it or anti-circ pixie dust?

      August 23, 2012 at 02:23 | Report abuse |
    • ianbrettcooper

      The study has only just been published. I'm certain the flaws will show up once people start to study the methodology. After all, what the study suggests is true cannot possibly be true, because if it were, then the rates of HIV in the US during the 1980s and 1990s would have been the lowest in the world, while the rates in Europe would have been sky high. The opposite was the case.

      August 23, 2012 at 07:25 | Report abuse |
  4. Brian in Toronto

    Don't mutilate your sons at birth. Wait till they are old enough to make the decision on their own after weighing all the pros and cons of the procedure. Teach them about proper hygiene, condoms, and 'bad girls' and they'll be fine.

    August 22, 2012 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark

      Don't forget to teach them about the 'bad boys' too ;)

      August 22, 2012 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      personally, I'm glad it was done while I was a baby, so I don't have to remember it :p

      August 23, 2012 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
  5. Luna

    I did the research i talked to several doctors before my son was born there is absolutely NO conclusive evidence to support circs, its in theory only that it prevents HIV and things like that.... and the reasoning behind it is that if the virus gets in the fold of an uncirc penis then it will get inside.... was there something i missed there?? do you mean to tell me Drs believe if you coat your penis in HIV infected fluids with a circ it just washes away?? I don't think so! Drs are out to make money plain and simple and they are putting children at risk to do so, watch the "hinge" method to circs, read about the permanent nerve damage reported in very high number of cases as well as the risks of everything from scaring, to piercing and amputation.

    August 22, 2012 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sissytoo

      Especially the botched operations, the amputations. It is horrible.

      August 26, 2012 at 11:44 | Report abuse |
  6. Mark

    If it was tradition to cut off the pinky at birth, would that make it morally right to do? Wait until the child is old enough and have them decide. The risk of complications does not outweigh the minor possible issues the foreskin can cause. If you are worried about STD's and cancer, then cut the whole thing off "just be safe". Morally, it's the same as removing the foreskin.

    August 22, 2012 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jeff-Tacoma

    Instead of mutulating our Children, why not talk to our children, why not educate them to the dangers of unprotected sex, keep the lines of communication open and give them a case of condoms once they approach an age where they might need them.

    It seems more and more like we're moving back to the dark ages.

    August 22, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • vandalii

      Jeff, you don't have children do you? And if you do, then they aren't teens yet, are they. "Educating" our children about the dangers of unsafe sex has really just increased the amount of sex being had, safe or unsafe, over the past 35 years. I guess we'll just have to wait for you to have kids or for them to grow into their hormones before you quit silly posts ;-)

      August 23, 2012 at 02:29 | Report abuse |
    • claybigsby

      " "Educating" our children about the dangers of unsafe sex has really just increased the amount of sex being had, safe or unsafe, over the past 35 years."

      Oh yeah? Any proof of these claims or just more rampant speculation?

      August 23, 2012 at 07:12 | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    I'd much rather save money by educating kids about safe sex than by cutting off parts of their anatomy. For that matter, if we're discussing saving money, how about outlawing tobacco use? It's not OK to limit a person's freedom by denying them tobacco but it is perfectly OK to cut off part of a boy's penis because he MAY contract an STD. I'll take my penis over tobacco any day – although I'll miss those cigars...

    August 22, 2012 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. old golfer

    I was circ. at birth. I have resented this my complete life. I should have been the one to decide on that surgery. Yes, cutting part of you body off is surgery. Shame on parents that do this, including mine.

    August 22, 2012 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • vandalii

      This is a sign of a man with too much time on his hands. If you really have time for that much resentment, maybe you ought to spend a bit more time concentrating on things outside your underwear.

      August 23, 2012 at 02:17 | Report abuse |
    • Pumbaa

      Have you checked with a doctor to see if you can get a foreskin transplant? Probably a Jew or a Muslim would be glad to donate one for you.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
    • vgnsnr

      That's exactly what I mean. Find out who the doc was and set an example by suing them. This expensive nonsense has to stop. Next thing you know they want to cut off all breasts to prevent breast cancer. Some folks seem to be already doing this if they think they fit a specif genetic profile. But that's adults hopefully making that decision. Can't do something like this to a baby and sleep at night. The scientific evidence is junk science and leaves out a lot of factors. And everything related to invisible friends telling you to do this to your kid is borderline insanity. My family is culturally Jewish by the way and my kids are intact. They can decide later what they want to do or believe.

      August 23, 2012 at 12:14 | Report abuse |
  10. rep123

    If "dr." Tobian wants to save money by circ, why stop there? Chop off the whole thing. No future kids, on scale of Us we could save trillions, not just billions. I hope which ever agency funded this "research' they will immediately stop funding this lunatic.

    August 22, 2012 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Cleopatra1981

    Woman's genital anatomy is more complicated than a man's, there are more nooks and crannies for dirt and bacteria to get into and cause and infection. Why don't we cut women? As far as I know, it's been labled as genital mutilation.

    August 22, 2012 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Think Harder

    This article should be removed for the sheer stupidity factor alone.

    August 23, 2012 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Eggplant

    Is the study author a Jewish doc?

    August 23, 2012 at 01:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. vandalii

    Funny how Johns Hopkins, a well-respected medical research University is the one with the actual doctor whose study is in a peer-reviewed publication and all these anti-circ posters are the ones talking about "myths" and "belief" rather than science. Seems that once an expert disagrees with your fairy dust, that expert is the crazy one. Maybe just a wee bit hypocritical?

    August 23, 2012 at 02:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. UncutTip

    This ancient practice by the jews and muslims have resulted in their men losing the capacity for full enjoyment of sexual intercourse. They will never ever get to know what they are missing. I am glad not to be in that boat.

    August 23, 2012 at 02:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pagan with an unmutilated package

      Jews, their Christian offshoots, and Muslims are obsessed with sex. Mutilating little boys makes perfect sense, if you're an insanely penis-obsessed cult.

      The Abrahamic religions are the worst thing to ever be inflicted on humanity.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • Chadi

      තව ද යක ත ය නව ඔය spam ම ත ක ව ග න කත කරද ද කත කල ය ත . අප ග ඩක ද න mail fwaorrd කරද ද BCC ද ල න ව ය fwaorrd කරන න . ක හ ප ද න ක අතට ග යප mail එකක බ ල වම mail addresses 1000 ක ව තර ල ස ය න ම හ ය ගන න ප ළ වන .

      September 11, 2012 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
  16. Chris

    Once again, HPV is mentioned as a reason to cut infant boys, yet THERE IS NO MENTION OF THE HPV VACCINE THAT IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR BOTH GIRLS AND BOYS.

    August 23, 2012 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Joe

    You get those diseases by unprotected irresponsible sex, not because your part looks different.

    This is an attempt by doctors to scare people into this costly procedure for their baby boys.

    August 23, 2012 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Jorge

    HIV rates could climb? I'm sorry, but if you are having unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive, you have bigger problems than not being "snipped".

    August 23, 2012 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. forum rant

    iif the same thing is done to women its genital mutation but healthy practice for men bcz its jewish controlled US?

    this article and that doctor's statemetns are completely baseless ..there are about a billion men in india & china without these procedures..why don't u provide the statistics from them.

    August 23, 2012 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jjh

      To compare male circ in a US hospital done at birth to female circ done in a third-world country to a pre-teen is bonkers. Not apples to apples.

      August 23, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
  20. Chris

    What the heck are hot dog makers going to do now that not as many foreskins are available???

    August 23, 2012 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Sanderson

    Removing testicles greatly reduces testicular cancer (an occurance in approximately 1 in 250 men). If you are concerned about your child's safety, I would focus on cutting that off more than I would the foreskin.

    August 23, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. gratefulfamily

    Why not let the owner of the penis make this personal decision? He's the one that has to live with it..... Do baby boys not have human rights? It seems to me the only folks still defending/justifying this barbaric procedure are the ones with either an emotional/psychological stake in it (either it was done to you or you chose to do it to your child, cognitive dissonance is a normal response) or they have something to lose financially as circ rates drop in the US.

    August 23, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
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    August 24, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. sara r.

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised that this bogus "science" has made it to cnn.com on the main page. Still, if circ is still so beneficial , why not feature a picture of the boy's penis after the circ, or a picture of a baby after the procedure has been done? Or a baby splayed out before the procedure instead of a perfectly content baby who certainly has not just had a very sensitive body part removed?
    I'm guessing because no one could really stomach it.

    August 25, 2012 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. juliedp

    Looking at the circ rates in Europe and Australia quickly debunks this idea. The circ rate in the US is much, much higher than those places, and so is the HIV infection rate. I would need to see a lot more about the methodology and information used in this study to buy their results. (And just because a Johns Hopkins doctor put his name on it is not enough in the face of very obvious and well known statistics that seem to contradict their finding.)

    August 26, 2012 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. petruski

    I wonder how money got into this issue? Should we mutilate babies to save money?
    Why not then stuff children with tranquilizers and we'll save a lot of money from accidents on the playground?

    Is it not about time that we become civilized?

    August 27, 2012 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Gnabergasher

    Teach your kid to use a condom, don't cut off the tip of his penis. It's amazing what a piece of latex can do.
    This is a bunch of barbaric bs propagated by a story book that we call true. It must be true because said book says it is true.

    August 27, 2012 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Chris

    Who cares how much it costs, its blood money that should have never been made. If anything they should pay back every cent to the victims of this practice.

    September 3, 2012 at 02:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bharti

      69oneear on August 9, 2011 @maxkamanchi But what about taking retsinpobilisy for our actions,we are the only species to control our environments, from our structured cites,infrastructures and landscapes, to education and behavior. The reality is if we do not start thinking on a global scope ,and manage the resources, the planet will become another Easter Island, and very quickly .

      November 16, 2012 at 01:08 | Report abuse |
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