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28th March, 2017. Circumcision in Papua New Guinea

Push to boost rates

Papua New Guinea has the highest HIV incidence of any country in Oceania, and health authorities are urging an increase in circumcision rates. Over half of the population practice traditional circumcision, most with a simple dorsal slit, but some with a full circumcision (see our PNG page). Epidemiological evidence suggests that this does protect against AIDS, but the push is on to get the whole male population done, preferably with a full circumcision. Read the story in this item from Radio New Zealand.

Thanks to Mark P. for the link.

18th March, 2017. Updates

Status updates on recent items

March 10th. Ultra-orthodox Jewish mohelim in New York infecting infants with herpes. It is now confirmed that in spite of the deal struck two years ago the Ultra-Orthodox community has done nothing about conducting health checks! City authorities are now promising a clamp-down but no details as yet. Read it in the New York Post.

March 2nd. #ZwakalaSkeem Day was a success, with 2,000 men taking advantage of a free circumcision. Actor Kagiso Modupe, who launched the nationwide campaign, was naturally done, with full support of his wife. Read about it in The Citizen or the S.A. Times.

Thanks to Tom for these links.

10th March, 2017. Babies infected by mohels

Barbaric ancient practice spreads herpes virus

Ultra-orthodox Jewish mohelim in New York are insisting on carrying out the rite of metzitzah in which the mohel sucks blood from the baby's penis after the cut. This has led to several cases of babies being infected with the herpes virus. Herpes is a very severe infection in babies since the immune system is not fully developed, and often causes permanent brain damage.

Two years age New York relaxed restrictions on the practice in exchange for a undertaking from the Ultra-Orthodox community to carry out health checks on mohels. As the latest horror story shows, they didn't keep their side of the bargain. The story has been in several papers - here is the report from The Independent.

Thanks to Tom for this story.

9th March, 2017. How can you improve your sex life?

Get circumcised, according the the Sun

The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, reports very enthusiastically on a study carried out at the University of Chicago. 362 men were followed up after their circumcision - 94% were very satisfied, two thirds said their sex lives improved, 75% said their partners preferred it, and coital injuries were significantly reduced.

The Sun used this information to enthusiastically recommend the cut. The newspaper has a huge readership so maybe we'll see a rush for the op in Britain. Read the story here, or the Daily Mail version here.

Thanks to Tom and Mark for this story.

Update Thanks to Brian Morris we now know that this study was actually carried out in the Dominican Republic. Read the original paper here.

2nd March, 2017. Free circumcisions Saturday week!

Famous South African actor is getting done, and urges others to follow.

Actor Kagiso Modupe is getting medically circumcised at the age of 33 on March 11. He said in a press release, "I would like South African men to join me in a celebration of masculinity, brotherhood and good health. I'm calling on men to be circumcised with me on Saturday, 11 March 2017. There are 200 clinics involved in #ZwakalaSkeem day and it's absolutely free. Because it's a Saturday, men who work, won't need to take time off." #ZwakalaSkeem means 'come with me, brother'.

More details, including a phone number for South African readers, at News 24

Thanks to South African reader EK for this story, which has apparently created a bit of a stir in South Africa.

1st March, 2017. Patrick Stewart thought he was circumcised

His mother told him so.

Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard, Professor X) appeared on the British TV programme 'The Graham Norton Show' on February 24th, along with Australian actor Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), to celebrate the end of their participation in the X-Men movie series with the film 'Logan'. Somehow (I haven't seen the show and I do find it weird) the conversation got round to circumcision and Patrick Stewart revealed that he had gone through life thinking he was circumcised until his wife told he wasn't. Apparently his mother had told him he was, and that it was the normal thing when he was born (some truth in the latter part). He's had three wives and it was the third one who enlightened him!

So how can it be that he didn't find out at school? He came from a poor family, and attended state primary and secondary modern schools. (Secondary Modern schools were the lower level of the two-tier selective state education system at that time.) That means that circumcised boys would have been in the minority. My hypothesis is that his foreskin was forcibly retracted and dilated when he was a baby. This was also common at the time and led to a loose foreskin which, even before puberty, only half covered the glans. It wasn't too much different from a 'partial' circumcision. (I've seen both in my English schooldays). So, in a predominantly uncircumcised milieu, he passed as circumcised. Maybe his mother didn't even realise that what was done to him wasn't circumcision.

You can read all about it at The Evening Standard newspaper. So what of Hugh Jackman? Born Australia 1968 - circumcised for sure.

Thanks to Tom for this story.

Addendum, March 10th. The relevant part of the show is now on Facebook. Thanks to AM for the link.

28th February, 2017. Accucirc wins!

What device would be best for early infant male circumcision in east and southern Africa?

A group of practioners in the field were asked 'What would be the best device for mass routine infant circumcision?' Many favoured the Mogen clamp if they were performing the operation themlelves, but felt it needed too much skill for less-trained paramedics. For them, Accucirc won easily as the safest device, and the simplest to use. Prepex also had some supporters, but only if used with an injected local anaesthetic, not just topical EMLA cream. The study was published in the prestigious journal PlosOne, open access, and you can read it here. For details of the devices mentioned, check out our Instruments and Techniques page.

Thanks to Brian Morris for the information.

11th February, 2017. New study in the news

Major Australian review paper in International Journal of Clinical Pediatrics

A new paper by Brian Morris and many co-authors: "Early infant male circumcision: Systematic review, risk-benefit analysis, and progress in policy" appeared in the International Journal of Clinical Pediatrics on February 8th. The paper is open access and you can download or read it here. It attracted immediate media attention, appearing in the site on February 8th in both the Lifestyle and Breaking News sections. Both reports were broadly sympathetic. It also got a sympathetic write-up in the UK Daily Mail and a less sympathetic treatment in The Guardian (Australian edition).

Some of these stories make the incorrect claim that 'cosmetic' (i.e. prophylactic) circumcision is banned in public hospitals in Australia. This is nonsense - it is just no longer free to public patients. You can still get it done as a private patient in a public hospital, and Medicare, the Australian universal health insurance system, will pay part of the cost.

Thanks to Tom and Roger for the news links and Brian Morris for the link to the paper.

2nd February, 2017. Margaret Thatcher was in favour of circumcision

She had son Mark done

Regular correspondent AM has dug up an interesting story from 2013. The late Baroness Thatcher, UK hard-right Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, appointed Charles Moore, editor of the conservative British newspaper 'The Daily Telegraph' as her authorised biographer. Given full access to her papers he found a lot of stuff that had not previously been made public, and to her credit she didn't redact anything. This included a letter in which she said she was going to ask Dr Robert Henderson, a former boyfriend, to recommend a private surgeon to have baby son Mark circumcised because she did not want to use the NHS (National Health Service, the universal health insurance system in the UK). (I didn't think the NHS would do routine circs, anyway. Ed.)

The story is in the Evening Standard newspaper, 23 April 2013.

29th January, 2017. Antibiotics in circumcision

Do they do any good - or any harm?

It has become common in minor surgery to use antibiotics as a preventative measure against infection of the operation site. This practice is widely criticised as encouraging the spread of antibiotic resistance. Now a recent large-scale survey of routine infant circumcisions, published in the Journal of Pediatric Urology, has shown that antibiotic use has no significant effect in preventing infections, but does have a small but significant risk of causing allergic reactions to the antibiotic. This suggests that antibiotics should not be used in RIC.

Read the story here.

Thanks to Brian Morris for the story.

24th January, 2017. Nurses to circumcise in the US

Wisconsin hospital introduces cost-saving procedure

The Mayo-Franciscan Hospital in Lacrosse, WI has started training neonatal nurses to perfom circumcision on baby boys. This is a first for the US, though of course it happens all the time in Africa. Dr. Dennis Costakos, neonatology chairman at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, suggests that the move can save money, free up physicians' time, and allow mothers and babies earlier discharge from hospital, since neonatal nurses are always available while physicians are not.

Read the story here.

OK, Tom again!

15th January, 2017. Malaysia circumcision

Government lays down a "Standard operating procedure"

Following on a series of more or less serious accidents (some horrendous) the Malaysian government has set out a standard operating procedure for circumcision. This is obviously a welcome move but at this time it isn't clear how this affects circumcisions done with disposable devices such as the Tara Klamp and Sunathrone.

Read the story here.

Thanks yet one more time to tireless correspondent Tom for sending us the link.

1st January, 2017. Health insurance cover for circumcision

Netherlands insurer defends its policy

Zilveren Kruis (Silver Cross), the Netherlands' largest medical insurer, has defended its coverage of voluntary male circumcision against criticism from far-right groups that it is assisting the spread of Islam.

Read the story here.

Thanks once again to Tom for sending us the link.

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