To cut or not to cut

When my son was born, I agonized a lot about circumcising him.  As a Jew, I felt it was appropriate.  However, as someone horrified by female circumcision (which I do know is a much more extreme procedure), I wondered how I could justify cutting into a new baby's healthy flesh to satisfy a cultural practice.  I feel much better now about my decision:

For well over a decade, southern Africans have battled the spread of H.I.V. with everything from condoms and abstinence campaigns to doses of antiretroviral drugs for pregnant women — and yet the epidemic continues unabated.

Now a growing number of clinicians and policy makers in the region are pointing to a simple and possibly potent weapon against new infections: circumcision for men.


The most striking studies suggest that men can lower their own risk of infection by roughly two-thirds, and that infected men can reduce the odds of transmitting the virus to their partners by about 30 percent, simply by undergoing circumcision. Research suggests that the cells on the underside of the foreskin are prime targets for the virus and that tears and abrasions in the foreskin can invite the infection.

You can read more here, including the usual caveats to these stunning, albeit preliminary, research results.