Thursday, August 27, 2009
Idiot at the CDC:This
just in: (emp add)
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control, showing touching naiveté about the current political environment, are weighing an initiative to encourage male circumcision, with the idea that there are probably some minor health benefits. Says Dr. Peter Kilmarx, the head of epidemiology for the H.I.V./AIDS Prevention wing of the CDC, "What we've heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks."
Really? Infants - while they are infants
- will benefit from circumcision, AIDS-wise?
- The doctor is stupid to claim that infants will benefit.
- The doctor is politically tone deaf. Couldn't it wait until after the health care legislation is passed? Now it's another political football for the right-wing to kick.
- The U.S. and much of the developed world is not like Africa, so lets stop using Uganda test results to set policy here.
- Where is that heterosexual AIDS epidemic that has been predicted for 30 years? It was a bogus claim made to push the meme that "AIDS affects us all" (disease-wise, not in terms of how it affects friends/family/health-expenses) in order to get political support for funding and non-discrimination. Worthy goals, but but you shouldn't lie in order to achieve them.
- It's wrong to irreversibly-surgically modify a kid when its not for an immediate cure (like a heart operation). Let the decision be made at the age when the male is an adult.
- Circumcision is clearly a religious ritual of submission and that's mostly what keeps it being performed.
- Here's the biggest objection. From the NYTimes article:
Clinical trials in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda found that heterosexual men who were circumcised were up to 60 percent less likely to become infected with H.I.V. over the course of the trials than those who were not circumcised.A lot depends on the "base rate". If 100% of uncircumcised males get AIDS, then circumcision reducing the infection rate to 40% is something to take notice of.
But if the base rate is one incident in ten million, then advocating circumcision to bring the rate down to one incident in (about) twenty million is insane. Is it worth circumcision of all males to eliminate the one-in-20-million AIDS case?
What is the base rate for heterosexuals (in Africa or the U.S.)? The article doesn't say.
This is another example of innumeracy that pervades the media.
Remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer tried to stop a briss?
HIV/AIDS kills more people than any other infectious disease in the world, 3-5 million people per year. There is nothing bogus here. There is a heterosexaul HIV epidemic, it is just that in the US, the public health apparatus worked and people mostly followed the non-bogus warnings. Which doesn't mean it is not a huge problem, just check out a public health clinic in a city near you, where heterosexual African-American women are the main victims.
There most definitely is a heterosexual AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa.