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Comment Archives: stories: Opinion: Guest Opinions

Re: “Opinion: Male Circumcision Alone Won't Solve Africa's HIV Problem

Mercedes wrote: "Disclosure: I do not have an anti-circumcision agenda. In fact, I like circumcised men. They hold erections longer."
I could say I like "ladies of the night", too, because they engage in sex more often, but would that give me any right to steal infant girls from their mamas and raise them as whores?

Posted by ChildProtector on 12/08/2009 at 8:21 AM

Re: “Opinion: Male Circumcision Alone Won't Solve Africa's HIV Problem

I wish to address a number of claims made by Frank O'Hara.

First, O'Hara claims "The studies I have seen show that circumcised men suffer impotency at a higher rate and at a younger age. I have two bona fide studies to support my information. Do you?"

Two studies have indeed found an association between circumcision and erectile dysfunction: Fink (2002) and Shen (2004). However, to name those studies while ignoring the others is being rather economical with the facts. Laumann (1997) and Richters (2006) found the opposite - that is, an association between lack of circumcision and erectile dysfunction. And studies by Collins (2002), Senkul (2004), Masood (2005), Senol (2008), Krieger (2008), and Kigozi (2007) have found no statistically significant differences.

Next, O'Hara claims "As for the claims of circumcision protecting against HIV, the evidence is similarly stacked against the claims. First of all, the three studies you reference were all conducted at the same time by the same "researchers" using the same methodologies and controls. They were conducted in three different areas but that doesn't make them 3 different studies, just the same study by the same authors conducted in three different areas."

These are the authors of the South African trial:

Auvert B, Taljaard D, Lagarde E, Sobngwi-Tambekou J, Sitta R, Puren A.

And these are the authors of the Ugandan trial:

Gray RH, Kigozi G, Serwadda D, Makumbi F, Watya S, Nalugoda F, Kiwanuka N, Moulton LH, Chaudhary MA, Chen MZ, Sewankambo NK, Wabwire-Mangen F, Bacon MC, Williams CF, Opendi P, Reynolds SJ, Laeyendecker O, Quinn TC, Wawer MJ.

And these are the authors of the Kenyan trial:

Bailey RC, Moses S, Parker CB, Agot K, Maclean I, Krieger JN, Williams CF, Campbell RT, Ndinya-Achola JO.

As can be seen, there is quite simply no overlap. Why would somebody make such a claim that is so patently false? One wonders whether O'Hara has even read the trials.

Next, O'Hara claims "If male circumcision were effective as claimed, there would be vast differences in the infection rates between circumcised cultures and uncircumcised cultures. These differences are observed no where in the world."

O'Hara is, of course, over-simplifying. There are multiple risk factors for HIV, both at the population and the individual level. Consequently, differences in exposure to various factors will together affect the prevalence of HIV. For example, if a culture had a higher circumcision rate than another culture but a lower uptake of condoms, it would be difficult to predict which would have more influence.

(And, incidentally, correlations between circumcision rates and HIV rates do exist, and have been documented in multiple studies. See, for example, Drain PK, et al. Male circumcision, religion, and infectious diseases: an ecologic analysis of 118 developing countries. BMC Infect Dis. 2006 Nov 30;6:172.)

O'Hara also claims: "African Americans have the highest HIV infection rate among the demographics and also the highest HIV infection rate with African American men representing 48% and African American women representing 80% of all infectees."

This is true, though it is odd that O'Hara mentions it, as African Americans have lower circumcision rates. For example, Laumann (1997) found circumcision rates of 81% among whites and 65% among blacks. Similarly, Xu (2007) found circumcision rates of 88% among non-Hispanic whites and 73% in non-Hispanic blacks. But we should be careful with these kind of data, as they are inherently susceptible to confounding. They can only show a correlation between two factors; they can't show that one causes the other. That's why randomised controlled trials are so important.

Posted by Jakew on 12/08/2009 at 3:52 AM

Re: “Opinion: Male Circumcision Alone Won't Solve Africa's HIV Problem

Mercedes wrote: "Disclosure: I do not have an anti-circumcision agenda. In fact, I like circumcised men. They hold erections longer. This is a scientific fact, buried among the many recent studies and surveys on sexual pleasure with or without a foreskin."

This is a pretty outrageous statement. Do you have any proof of this? The studies I have seen show that circumcised men suffer impotency at a higher rate and at a younger age. I have two bona fide studies to support my information. Do you? Additionally, acecdotal evidence refutes your claim. US men consume 54% of the world's supply of Viagra, Malaysian men (Muslim and circumcised) are the world's highest per capita consumers of Viagra type products and Israel is the world's premiere counterfieters of Viagra. The evidence seems to be well stacked against your claim.

As for the claims of circumcision protecting against HIV, the evidence is similarly stacked against the claims. First of all, the three studies you reference were all conducted at the same time by the same "researchers" using the same methodologies and controls. They were conducted in three different areas but that doesn't make them 3 different studies, just the same study by the same authors conducted in three different areas. "Three different studies" just sounds better, doesn't it? In fact, these authors have had a very public stance of promoting male circumcision for more than 25 years and this appears to be a continuation of their agenda.

So, does male circumcision have a protective effect against HIV? Apparently not! We can compare the claims for male circumcision against other interventions against other diseases to see if the results are comparable. For instance, polio. Polio is a far more communicable disease than HIV and can be transmitted via simple contact with a contaminated surface. That can be any surface as the virus can live on surfaces for days. These surfaces can be door knobs and handles, faucets and school desks just as examples. This is far different than HIV which requires intimate contact and/or the exchange of bodily fluids. The researchers claim male circumcision provides 60% protection. The polio vaccine is 70% effective yet wiped the disease from the population within a single generation. See a conflict here?

If male circumcision were effective as claimed, there would be vast differences in the infection rates between circumcised cultures and uncircumcised cultures. These differences are observed no where in the world. If these claims were accurate, HIV would be conspiciously absent in The US yet The US has the highest HIV infection rate among the industrialized nations. Furthermore, African Americans have the highest HIV infection rate among the demographics and also the highest HIV infection rate with African American men representing 48% and African American women representing 80% of all infectees. We can also look to Africa. Swaziland circumcises 98% of it's males yet has a 22% infection rate and the rate in growing. Additionally, there are 6 African nations that circumcise their men yet have higher infection rates than those who don't. This is prima facie evidence that male circumcision doesn't work.

Research has also shown that circumcised men are much more resistant to wearing condoms. It is hypothesized that this is because of the loss of sensation after circumcision. Any man will testify that condoms reduce the experience and the conclusion is that condoms reduce it below acceptable levels. This could have the potential of exacerbating the epidemic rather than reducing it.

Short of a vaccine, the only protection is to interupt the vectors of transmission. That is to limit severely in populations with high infections the number of sexual partners and to always use condoms when the risk of the partner is unknown.

The massive amounts of money being wasted on circumcision campaigns would be better spent on vaccine research. Recently, a vaccine candidate was announced as the result of a successful trial. The vaccine showed a 31% efficacy but at this low rate, it could have a significant influence on the spread of the virus and in widespread use, could end the epidemic within about 3 generations simply by interupting the vectors of transmission sufficiently that the virus would run into dead ends.


Posted by Frank OHara on 12/07/2009 at 7:51 AM

Re: “Opinion: Male Circumcision Alone Won't Solve Africa's HIV Problem

Even though studies show female genital cutting correlates with reduced HIV risk, nobody is suggesting a global FGM campaign. Why?

Why? Because people have a basic human right to enjoy their pleasure-receptive parts, especially if those people are female. 94% of the world's female population is protected by law (if not always enforcement) from even a mere pin-poke to draw one ceremonial drop of genital blood, with no religious exemption. Yet we are allowed to have a non-doctor amputate over half of a non-consenting male's specialized pleasure-receptive nerve endings. We can throw party with no shame so people can watch the helpless victim lose a valuable body part.

This is wrong. Whatever the merits of circumcising, the decision can wait until the owner of the genitals can decide for himself the way men do for vasectomy. If he decides to be cut later he'll get superior pain management, a chance to vet the cosmetic surgeon's qualifications, superior odds of success, and some say in the style of cut and in the fate of his own body. If things don't go well, he'll have someone NOT long dead to sue.

We must legally protect boys too.

Posted by TLCTugger on 12/06/2009 at 6:00 PM

Re: “Opinion: Male Circumcision Alone Won't Solve Africa's HIV Problem

Lest anyone be confused, the circumcision campaign being brought in Africa has no bearing on fighting HIV in the US.

About 80% of sexually active men in the US are circumcised, compared to Europe where very few men are circumcised. Yet, the US has a much higher rate of HIV infection than Europe.

Also, studies have shown that circumcision has no affect on male-to-male transmission vectors. Other studies have shown that circumcision increases the HIV rate form male-to-female transmission vectors. Too much faith is being placed on the 3 African trials and there has been no follow-up to verify the results. That is bad science.

Posted by Restoring Tally on 12/06/2009 at 4:51 PM

Re: “Opinion: Male Circumcision Alone Won't Solve Africa's HIV Problem

You seem to miss the most important problem with this fools errand. The message that is received won't be the one intended and circumcised men will believe they are now immune to HIV infection, women will believe them and be put at greater risk since they will be less able to negotiate safe sex, and more importantly it seems nonsocial infections are a leading cause of HIV in those parts of the world. This quick fix will fail it's only a question of when that is recognized and if anyone will have the inclination to do anything about it.

Posted by Joe on 12/06/2009 at 1:33 PM

Re: “Opinion: Male Circumcision Alone Won't Solve Africa's HIV Problem

Circumcision is a dangerous distraction in the fight against AIDS. There are six African countries where men are more likely to be HIV+ if they've been circumcised: Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, and Swaziland. Eg in Malawi, the HIV rate is 13.2% among circumcised men, but only 9.5% among intact men. In Rwanda, the HIV rate is 3.5% among circumcised men, but only 2.1% among intact men. If circumcision really worked against AIDS, this just wouldn't happen. We now have people calling circumcision a "vaccine" or "invisible condom", and viewing circumcision as an alternative to condoms.

The one randomized controlled trial into male-to-female transmission showed a 54% higher rate in the group where the men had been circumcised btw.

ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery will cost African lives, not save them.

Posted by ml66uk on 12/06/2009 at 10:06 AM

Re: “Idaho Delegation Wants to Read the Bill

I also looked for any comment about the anti-rape bill in both the Times-News in Twin Falls and in the Boise Statesman to no avail, how very, very sad.

Posted by rodnchance on 10/23/2009 at 9:13 PM

Re: “Idaho Delegation Wants to Read the Bill

Idaho Senators Crapo and Risch were among the few Senators who actually voted against an anti-rape amendment to the 2010 Dept. of Defense appropriations bill recently - fortunately the amendment passed but why haven't these two been asked to justify their votes? I can't find any local news coverage of this, anywhere. Why?

Posted by chet.parker on 10/22/2009 at 2:12 AM

Re: “Health Care RX

I go to your office and I wait for 20 minutes in the waiting room. I go the exam room and wait another 10 minutes. When you finally breeze in I have your undivided but very distracted attention for all of 5 minutes. I'm told my blood pressure is still a little high and my blood sugar is in the target area. Keep taking the meds and see me in another 6 months. For this I'm charged $92. Now I like my doctor but I could have told him that over the phone.

As I see it the doctor is trying to see as many patients as possible to maximize income. Why do I think this? Because if anything else comes up I have to schedule another appointment because he doesn't have the time to check into that right now.

I do agree that there is a need for tort reform. The compliance issue can be solved with a single payer system rather than the numerous private plans that we have now. Pay doctors for results not the number of patients seen.

Posted by CrotchetyOldMan on 08/19/2009 at 1:59 PM

Re: “Bikes Vs. Cars

I can only imagine how much positive impact this condescending smarm will have on the state of car-bike relations in Boise. Nice one. Way to alienate all sides of the argument. And fixed gears are great bikes, the purest expression of the machine in my opinion. While you (wasn't that you on that tiki bar bike kit thing?) just come off as a grumpy old hater cursing those damn kids. Peace.

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by CRH on 07/09/2009 at 7:36 PM

Re: “Will the Circle be Unbroken?

Please please please keep following this story. This is wasteful government spending at it's worst. The roundabout is not needed or wanted by the neighborhood...residential or commercial. It's simply unbelievable that the most recent proposal contains a signalized roundabout! What in the world??? It is my understanding that the initial intention of the roundabout was to slow traffic as it entered the Warm Springs historical district. How about a speed bump or a flashing yellow light? If the "foremost American authority on roundabouts" thinks this is a bad idea, why isn't the ACHD listening? Lots of money and headaches for taxpayers...all because the funds have already been earmarked? That's like marrying someone you don't like because the cake has been paid for! Why fix something that isn't broken? Please ACHD, we implore you, GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD OR JUST LEAVE IT ALONE!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by blueonetoo on 06/30/2009 at 7:43 PM

Re: “Why Minnick said "no" To Earmarks

It is tough to make these kinds of calls, but ultimately we need leaders, not the politicians we see of today, but true leaders with character like Walt Minnick. Walt didn't actually sound like he has a full commitment to this task, I could read some wiggle room in his statement. I know, you can't be too committed to a cause these days when you're in politics, especially if you're elected as a democrat in Idaho. But, the principal is the right one. If a project doesn't make sense as a federal project (i.e.; not a project that serves the union), then it shouldn't be a federal project. This will probably draw hate mail as well, but since when is a park, or a light rail system, or a zoo in Idaho become a project that serves the union? Maybe a National Park or a rail system on the order of a coast-to-coast system, but we all have to get back to reality. Why have we allowed the system to go unchecked? It has grown to its current system because our elected officials are often gauged based on what they brought home to us - yea, you know, they call it pork. Like the air terminal going up right now... that's right, the only reason its getting built is because we screamed bloody murder. Sure, it's good for us, but aren't we then the problem?

Posted by Scott Nicholson on 04/18/2009 at 5:49 PM

Re: “No Longer a Single-Issue Voter

This article gives me hope that being evangelical pro-life christian identifying does not have to mean that you can't reason the issues out and come to a conclusion that makes sense.... Thanks to you for the writing and for the publishing of it-

Posted by Carol Orshan on 10/29/2008 at 5:10 PM

Re: “Truce in the Grazing Wars

Mr. White spins a good yarn and makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but his facts make no sense. He talks about reducing his carbon footprint, but meat is one of the most energy intensive foods around! Tons of energy is lost when the food and water needs to be run through a cow, and trucked around the country, as opposed to eating lower on the food chain. He talks about wanting to manage water sustainably, but cows are one of the worst sources of water pollution! Whether they are dairy cows in a feedlot, or beef cows out on the public lands, the manure often ends up in the water. And cows on public lands often heavily trample the streambanks, causing large amounts of erosion and warmer water-- death sentences for fish. He talks about improving wildlife habitat for endangered species, but cows are one of the biggest sources of extinction on public lands! They trample and break fragile soil crusts, leave much less grass for wildlife, and degrade water quality. This is not to mention the huge public subsidies handed to public lands ranchers. It costs approximately $1.35 per month to graze a cow and a calf on public land, which is far below market value. We get to pay for all the above-mentioned damage. The earth isn't ready for a truce in the grazing wars.

Posted by Kristin on 08/08/2008 at 10:30 AM

Re: “Searching For Home

Instead of celebrating Israel's birthday, we should be declaring the USA's independence from that parasitic nation. Israel costs us more than $3 billion annually in direct cash payments, and billions more in bribes to Israel's neighbors to try to preserve peace. And don't forget the $1 TRILLION (so far) for the Iraq War, fought solely for Israel's benefit. In return, Israel exports American military technology to China and other rivals of America, and foments armed conflicts in the Middle East which Americans must fight. Antagonizing oil-producing nations and destroying their oilfields makes the price of oil go up. That price has now ruined our economy. Our government's continued obeisance toward Israel, despite the cost to common taxpayers like you and me, is humiliating. Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is monstrous. To most of the world, it looks like ethnic cleansing. Perhaps you don't like Arabs, but do you want to bankrupt yourself for three generations to finance a genocide against them? Now the Israel lobby is pressing us to attack Iran. Iran does not pose a threat to the USA, nor even to Israel, which has hundreds nuclear weapons in its arsenal.

Posted by Paul White on 07/20/2008 at 1:53 PM

Re: “Searching For Home

It has been said that if you repeat a lie long enough, it will eventually be accepted as truth. I for one think this is what has happened to Marcy Newman, and to anyone who actually believes there is a JEWISH reason for the so-called Palestinian refugee problem. "Palestinian refugees" is a big lie. The so-called "native population" that were "evicted" by the Israelis, were, in 1948, encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders, who promised to "purge" Israel of all the Jews. Nothing is said about the Jewish refugees that were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms. The truth is that the Arab League keeps the Palestinian refugees issue as a political weapon against Israel. The bottom line is that Israel has a right to the Land, both historically, legally, and most importantly, Biblically. A Jew, above anyone else, should know this, and stop defending the "poor Palestinians". Happy Birthday Israel! In no way is it "the catastrophe"! It is a time for rejoicing! L' Chaim! Am Israel Chai!

Posted by Lynn on 05/16/2008 at 10:01 PM

Re: “Searching For Home

Re: comments by Marcy Newman Again we see Marcy Newman posting in a local venue with her misinformation and skewed “facts” about Israel and the Arabs occupying Jewish land. It makes me wonder why she bothers to write this garbage in a local paper to be read by only a handful in a small town like Boise. Is she trying to convince a handful of people here or is she trying to convince herself of her convoluted reasoning? I also have to wonder about her story of “wandering” into a refugee camp. One is not free to “wander” anywhere in the Arab occupied areas of Israel unless they have a very powerful escort of locals. It is just not safe unless you have some very powerful friends there. As anyone who has a computer can research, since the mid-1800’s when the Jews began returning to their land after some 2000 years and rebuilding their homeland, the Arabs began coming to Israel for work from their historical lands to improve their lives. The Arabs are not native to the Jewish land of Israel. They are the interlopers. Until the Jews began returning there were only a handful of Arabs who even lived in Israel, which was then called the REGION of Palestine and included Trans-Jordan. In that time, Palestinians were anyone who lived in the region of Palestine, especially Jews. The Arabs occupying Jewish land have had numerous opportunities to build a viable society for themselves and have failed to do so. The latest opportunity was when Israel turned over the historically Jewish land of Gaza to the Arabs which included beautiful farms, municipal buildings, schools and homes and what did they do, they destroyed almost everything there. All of the infrastructure was in place for them to come out of the U.N. “refugee camps” and move in. The next thing they did was to elect a stronger Arab terrorist force, Hamas, to run the government. Repeated polls show some 75% of the Arabs in these refugee camps want to continue killing Jews. These Arabs in the “refugee camps” are the most heavily funded people in history. Especially since 1993, hundreds of billions of dollars have been paid to them to “better their lives”. One can see where most of the money has gone by looking on the hills overlooking these “refugee camps” and see luxurious Arab villas with all the amenities. Instead of blaming the Jews the Arabs should be blaming their own corrupt government leaders. Besides all the money that is poured in the area,every week, hundreds of semi-trucks of food and necessities for living are transferred to them from Israel. Israel supplies most of their electricity and water. Israel provides medical supplies on a weekly basis and hundreds of Arabs are treated for medical problems in Israel each year. What does Israel get in return, thousands of daily rockets hitting their communities sent as a “thank you” from Marcy Newman’s friends. Do you hear “war crimes” or “nakba” by the world for this outrage? The answer to the conflict is not the return of the Arabs who left willingly or were told to do so by the Arab League in 1948. The answer to the conflict is to replace the corrupt terrorist regime that rules in the Arab areas. It is to replace the school curriculum that teaches hatred and lies about the Jews and the West to all their kids beginning in kindergarten. It is for people like Marcy Newman to stop writing these blogs full of hatred and misinformation so people can learn the truth about the conflict. Happy 3060th birthday Israel. May you live long and prosper.

Posted by Bob Hathaway on 05/16/2008 at 8:12 PM

Re: “Searching For Home

There have been miracles in this world, and Israel is one of those. With the entire Arab world out to crush, annihilate, murder, bomb, behead, all Jews.... God's Israel still exists.... much to the chagrin of many! Israel is and has been the ONLY democracy, by Rule of Law (even for enemies) all along. They provide water, sewer, hospital care, and much more for (even) those who hate them and try to kill them..... you would think that the Arab and Palestinian idiots would recognize a good thing.... no way!!! They teach their smallest children to lie, hate, steal, murder and kill (even today) in the name of Allah..... the Religion of Peace? I am saddened by what I see over there! but I do NOT feel sorry for the Palestinians at all! They could have had Peace long ago if that was what they wanted.... they didn't.... they wanted genocide of the Jewish race no matter what it cost..... it cost them a lot and still does. Israel is a premier nation of amazing science, religion, and agriculture, while the Hammas idiots that are firing missles at Israel are less than a 3rd world country caused by their own evil!

Posted by Gary L. Iverson, Sr. on 05/16/2008 at 7:13 PM

Re: “Searching For Home

I always cringe when I see Marcy Newman's name. I know it will be something against Jews, even though she is Jewish. In her article on Palestinian refugee camps, she does not discuss the equal transfer of peoples from Arab countries to Israel in 1948, as Jews were thrown out with no possessions, losing their homes, businesses and money. They had a hard time making it in a new country as refugees. No one has ever asked them to go back and mourn over the businesses, lands, communities they lost. No one cares about their losses, frankly. Also, as to raw sewage, Israel has installed fresh drinking water and sewer pipe repeatedly in all refugee camps in their jurisdiction. The PLO types always tear them up within a week--sewage works so much better to stir up international sympathizers such as Marcy Newman. Third, as she well knows, the UN offered a two-state solution as Israel was formed in 1948. Israel accepted this deal. It was 5 Arab countries who rejected that and wanted ALL of Israel for their people. So don't cry on my shoulder, Palestinians. Talk to your Arab leaders who refuse to grant citizenship to your people in any of their countries, who refuse to settle your people elsewhere and keep you in poverty for their own reasons, mainly to keep the terrorist element focussed on Israel instead of the corrupt, totalitarian Arab governments.

Posted by Isabel on 05/16/2008 at 1:21 PM


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