US medical body changes advice on circumcision

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The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) has changed its policy on the procedure and is no longer opposed to the routine circumcision of male new born babies.

In a statement the academy said: “The benefits of newborn male circumcision justify access to this procedure for those families who choose it”.

According to the Independent, the recommendation follows research showing circumcision reduces the chances of contracting sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

However, circumcision is a thorny issue – not least for those of religious faith and members of the medical profession.

With around 1.2 million people living in the US with HIV – and 61% of gay and bisexual men accounting for all new infections – the procedure is seen by some as having a role to play in tackling the epidemic.

However, Cary James, head of programmes at Britain’s largest sexual health charity, Terrence Higgins Trust said: “Evidence that cutting foreskins leads to cutting HIV rates is inconclusive, especially because there are so many contributing factors to HIV transmission other than if a man is circumcised or not.

“As an HIV prevention strategy, male circumcision is really only suitable for the developing world, where healthcare is under-developed and access to condoms poor.

“In the UK, condoms are easily available, and they are a lot more effective against HIV.”

Earlier this summer, a German regional court in Cologne declared that circumcision amounted to bodily harm.

The decision was met with subsequent protests from Jewish and Muslim leaders across Europe.

Meanwhile, the British Medical Association currently has no policy on the issue because of the “absence of unambiguously clear and consistent medical data on the implications of the intervention.”

However, the BMA says UK doctors are under no obligation to comply with a parents’ request to circumcise a child.

Several NHS Trusts only carry out the surgery on medical grounds and not because of cultural preference.

It’s estimated around 30,000 boys are circumcised annually in the UK, and figures show nearly half a-million new born American males undergo the procedure each year – although this is on the decline.

Circumcision involves removing the tip of the penis and aims to reduce germs which grow underneath the foreskin.