Parents should consider circumcision: AIDS activist
Although Saskatchewan stopped paying for circumcisions of baby boys a decade ago, an AIDS advocate says it's something parents might want to think about.
The United Nations recently endorsed circumcision as a means of reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS. Three medical trials conducted in Africa indicated adult male circumcision reduced the risk of HIV infection from heterosexual intercourse by up to 60 per cent.
While the studies backing up that recommendation were conducted in African countries and dealt with men, rather than babies, AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan spokeswoman Christine Smith says the advice applies in Saskatchewan for baby boys. It's an option for parents to think about, she said.
"Seriously consider circumcision," she said. "Saskatchewan might feel it's far removed from the AIDS pandemic, but it is a reality here in Saskatchewan for all classes and races of people."
Smith also thinks parents who choose circumcision should also lobby government to have it reinstated as an insured procedure. Hospitals will circumcise babies, a procedure where the foreskin is removed from the penis, but parents have to pay a fee.
Dennis Kendal, spokesman with the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons, says doctors are discouraged from performing routine circumcisions.
Twenty-five years ago, more than half of Saskatchewan's newborn boys were circumcised. By 2003, that had declined to just 16 per cent.
Kendal notes that the risk of AIDS is far lower in Saskatchewan than in countries where the studies took place.
However, that doesn't rule out taking a new look at the issue.
"We're aware of the UN recommendations and we do think those will require our review of policy," he said. "For the moment our advice is still that parents ought to be cautious about wanting to circumcise new born males for health reasons."
The College will wait for recommendations from the Canadian Pediatric Association, before it considers any changes to its circumcision policy, Kendal said.