In this article in the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz (Hebrew; may be paywalled), Prof' Bentowicz, head of the Center for Tropical Diseases and AIDS in the faculty of Health Science in the Ben-Gurion University in Be'er-Sheva, Israel, makes the following claims:

  • Studies in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa have shown that circumcision reduced the rate of contraction of AIDS by 60% relative to the control group of uncircumcised men [sic].
  • Additional followup studies in other places confirmed these findings.
  • Following these studies, the WHO, UNAIDS and the CDC have recommended that circumcision be used as part of a comprehensive policy to control the spread of AIDS in countries with high prevalence of AIDS infection, especially in Eastern Africa.

Are these claims true, technically?

Of course, even if circumcision does reduce the chance of contracting AIDS, that's a bit like castration reduces it - if you don't have the organ, you won't get AIDS through it. But regardless of the merit of circumcision, I kind of doubt this strong recommendation is actually in effect.

1 Answer 1


True That There Safety Benefits Are Huge

For the WHO:

There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%. Three randomized controlled trials have shown that male circumcision provided by well trained health professionals in properly equipped settings is safe. WHO/UNAIDS recommendations emphasize that male circumcision should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV and low male circumcision prevalence.

And the CDC:

When men are circumcised, they're less likely than uncircumcised men to get HIV from their HIV-positive female partners. + There are biological reasons why, for some men, male circumcision may decrease the risk of getting HIV during vaginal sex with an HIV-positive female partner. + Male circumcision also reduces the risk of a man getting herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV) from a woman who has those infections. However, there is no evidence that circumcision decreases the risk of HIV-negative receptive partners getting HIV from a circumcised HIV-positive partner.

Mixed on Recommendations

The WHO seems to want to recommend circumcision, but stops short, noting:

There is a lack of a standardized operating practice for circumcision, including the management and reporting of adverse events. Further prospective studies of circumcision risks are needed, with rigorous documentation using standardized definitions, and to compare the relative risks of different methods, the optimal age for circumcision and the impact of specific and ongoing training of providers.

ie, WHO recommends circumcision, but notes that some medical facilities, particularly in areas where circumcision could help the most, may be substandard and not worth the procedure, preventing a blanket endorsement. Source

The CDC, on the other hand, has openly endorsed circumcision, though the CDC concerns itself with the US:

Given the urgency of the HIV epidemic in the U.S., CDC believes it is essential to maximize the impact of all available prevention options and is working to provide clinicians the best possible information on the full range of proven approaches.


Data on the cost-effectiveness of male circumcision to prevent HIV in the United States are limited, but suggest that newborn circumcision would offer long-term cost-savings by reducing the lifetime risk of HIV infection. At an individual level, male circumcision may help reduce the risk of HIV acquisition among men, and may be combined with other proven risk reduction strategies to provide even greater protection.


I understand that circumcision is controversial with some, but by the data and by medical professionals, at this time the evidence is pretty overwhelming in one direction.

  • 1
    " the data and by medical professionals, at this time the evidence is pretty overwhelming in one direction." – it really isn't, unless one is "cherry picking" to make a case for supporting this practice.
    – spring
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 4:11
  • @NoGrabbing: Interesting. Can you expand this comment into an answer, or at least provide some links?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 21:24
  • 2
    @NoGrabbing If you want to go against WHO, AAP, and the CDC, I suggest packing some proof.
    – Michael W.
    Commented Dec 22, 2019 at 1:11
  • Male circumcision has historically been used as a method of oppressing men by, among other things, reducing sexual pleasure. While it may well be effective at reducing AIDs transmission it seems irresponsible to recommend wholesale circumcision. What's more, in many places in Africa men may be teen or adult when they are circumcised, it isn't reserved for mutilating babies. A little more consideration may be due when considering oppressing an entire gender to combat STDs.
    – user52880
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 5:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .