The Checkup
Health in the News and in Your Life

By Adapted from voices.washpost.com/checkup
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Circumcise Your Son?

There's new evidence that men who are circumcised are less likely to get infected with sexually transmitted viruses, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Previous research had found that men who were circumcised were 50 to 60 percent less likely to get infected with the AIDS virus. Now, researchers have found that circumcision also significantly reduces a man's risk of being infected with the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), which causes genital herpes, and the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause genital warts in men and cervical cancer in women.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Health in Baltimore and at the Rakai Health Sciences Program and Makerere University in Uganda examined data collected by two studies involving 3,393 men in Uganda ages 15 to 49.

-- Rob Stein

Mazarin wrote:

I thought about it for a very long time when I found out I was pregnant with a boy. It came down to two things:

1. The earliest studies about the decrease in HPV, HIV and STD transmission rates were coming out at the time. All signs pointed to circumcision reducing these things.

2. My father had not been circumcised as a baby and had difficulty with his foreskin as an adult. He was circumcised at 24. He said it was hell and he'd never want to put anyone through that if possible.

darkhorse3113 wrote:

We had our son circumcised, but if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't. After being appalled by stories of female circumcision, I found I couldn't come up with many differences other than intent. In fact, there doesn't seem to be much reason for male circumcision at all except for "that's what we do." The results of these studies don't change much (a condom seems a much better preventative measure than circumcision).

swyork wrote:

How can we compare the United States with Uganda? If this is to be credible in the U.S., the study should be done again in the U.S.

jdan1 wrote:

The most effective prevention of STDs is abstinence before marriage and fidelity after.

MLuther wrote:

The tragedy of circumcision is that it creates circumcisers.

A New Wind A-Blowin'?

Attorney General Eric Holder says federal law-enforcement officials will no longer go after providers of marijuana used for medicinal purposes in the 13 states in which medical marijuana is legal, unless that service is just a front for unlawful activities.

That announcement will no doubt be welcomed by those who advocate for pot's use for people suffering from such diseases as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis.

-- Jennifer Huget

adrienne_najjar wrote:

Thankfully we are seeing some rational decisions regarding drug policy. Chasing medical pot is a poor use of resources and needlessly puts well-intentioned people into the criminal "justice" system.

peartree wrote:

If marijuana were legal for medical care in all of the U.S., it could be cultivated at home by patients and/or their families for next to nothing.

civilrightist wrote:

I am a conservative at heart and do not necessarily agree with the majority of Eric Holder's decisions, but it is time that marijuana be decriminalized. The war on marijuana has been a massive waste of money and has created a cottage illegal black market that robs the government of billions in possible tax revenue while at the same time costing U.S. taxpayers billions in the effort to curb an irresistible force. Are we somehow responsible enough to be trusted with ethyl alcohol, aspirin and a myriad of other manufactured chemicals but somehow it is okay to make it illegal to plant a seed, water it, feed it with nutrients and harvest its fruit?

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company