As the year 2009 draws to a close, history may judge this year as the "turning point" in the movement to achieve universal circumcision -- a world in which the foreskin no longer poses a health threat to a male, his partners, or society as a whole.
Aided by one medical study after another this year, more governments than ever have embraced the goal of 100% male circumcision, knowing that this simple health procedure can reduce the risk of HIV by 60% and dramatically curb the spread of STDs, HPVs, cancers, and other ailments that afflict society.
When the data is finally collected for the year 2009, it will show that more males world-wide are circumcised now than ever before in world history. To be circumcised is not only the "norm" in the USA, it has become the desired norm across the world simply because "the cut" is healthy.
Even in those countries where governments have been reluctant to embrace circumcision (i.e., many European countries), the populace as a whole is joining the circumcision movement. Men are opting for the cut, and parents are wisely choosing to circumcise their sons at birth, knowing this is the safest, most reliable, and inexpensive way to protect their boy for life.
We have also seen a growing appreciation of the value of circumcision in Asia and the Indian subcontinent. I would bet, once the data is in, that more Japanese, more Indians, more Chinese are circumcised than ever before -- joining their counterparts in Korea, Philippines, and Indonesia who are already clean-cut. The best news on that front this year have been reports that Chinese health officials may encourage universal circumcision in the near future. The world's largest country could set a powerful example if it would promote newborn circumcision as an important health measure.
The year 2009 also saw the growing hysteria of the anti-circumcision fanatics, as they try to pressure governments to ignore the medical science and to scare parents against this life-preserving procedure. In my view, the fanaticism of these groups only marginalizes them among the mainstream. That is certainly true in the USA where, despite millions of anti-circ dollars spent on lies and mischaracterizations, I have no doubt that more baby boys were circumcised this year than last year.
Just ask the normal person on the street here in the Midwest about circumcision and the answer is always the same. "Of course. It's the healthy thing to do." -- a statement usually coupled with "Yeah, it prevents AIDs." The latter is not quite accurate -- it reduces the risk of AIDs -- but the public is getting the basic message.
Even those who may be confused on the issue because of anti-circ propaganda usually return to the basics. "It's cleaner. It's easier." -- with the variation "If it was so bad, why does everyone do it?" They do it because, deep down, nobody really wants a filthy foreskin that can cause so much medical havoc.
If 2009 becomes the turning point in the medical goal of achieving universal circumcision, there is still one disappointment which can be remedied in the remaining weeks of this year. Where is the American Academy of Pediatrics? Where is the CDC, Centers for Disease Control? We began the year with hope that -- based on medical science alone -- the AAP and CDC would declare that every male should be circumcised. While insiders say they want to do this because they know it is medically right, pressure from the anti-circs have delayed action. Nothing would complete 2009 more as the "Year of Circumcision" than a strong backbone at the AAP and CDC and a year-end statement encouraging ("voluntarily") the circumcision of males!
So what do you think? Do you agree that, in general, this has been a terrific year for circumcision? I welcome your thoughts.