When it comes to circumcision, the benefits outweigh the risks, according to a recently released draft of federal guidelines.
In its first-ever draft guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that doctors counsel parents and uncircumcised males on the health benefits and potential risks of the procedure. Scientific evidence points to it as a means of preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The procedure, which has long been the subject of much debate, involves cutting the foreskin around the tip of the penis. Inflammation and minor bleeding are the most common negative effects.
The CDC is entering the controversy because a few studies out of Africa have shown that the risk of a man acquiring HIV from an infected female was cut in half if he was circumcised, the Washington Times reported.
These African clinical trials showed that circumcision reduced a heterosexual man’s odds of contracting an HIV infection by 50-60 percent. In addition, research has shown that circumcised men have reduced risks of contracting genital herpes and human papillomavirus.
The guidelines indicate that circumcision has only been proven to prevent HIV and STDs in men during vaginal sex, HealthDay News cautioned. The procedure has not been proven to reduce the risk of infection through anal or oral sex. Nor has it been show to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to female partners.
According to the guidelines, the scientific evidence is mixed regarding homosexual sex. Some studies show that circumcision provides partial protection while others do not.
The CDC’s draft guidelines are similar to a policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics on circumcision released in 2012.
Neither the CDC nor the American Academy of Pediatrics outright recommends circumcision for all infant males. Both are quick to note that circumcision is a very personal decision based on family, religious or cultural beliefs.
The public is welcome to comment on the draft guidelines through January 16, 2015.