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Does Male Circumcision Help Spread AIDS?

John A. Erickson - Biloxi, MS
Letter to Editor of The Backlash!,
p. 22, September 1994


Dear Rod,

The drawing on the cover of your May issue shows a woman saying, "Yes, let's make love. But I'm concerned about AIDS. How do you feel about safe sex?," and the man she's talking to replying, "Hey, don't worry, I've been circumcised."

It might make slightly more sense for him to say, "Hey, don't worry, my foreskin is intact."

Of all the charges leveled against the human foreskin throughout its long, tortured history, none is more frightening - and none warrants closer scrutiny - than the ongoing, well-publicized charge that it predisposes its possessor and his sexual partners to an early, slow, agonizing death - to infection with the AIDS virus.

Why have researchers and the media ignored the opposite, more obvious possibility?

Most sexual transmission of the AIDS virus is from the thrusting partner to the receiving partner at ejaculation during vaginal or anal intercourse.

A penis with its foreskin intact - an uncircumcised penis - can slip in and out of a vagina or rectum non-abrasively inside it's own slick sheath of sensitive, self-lubricating, moveable foreskin. A penis with its foreskin missing - a dowel-like circumcised penis - can only scrape in and out.

A penis with its foreskin intact requires relatively gentle thrusting - and less time - to ejaculate. A circumcised penis - its head keratinized, desensitized, and dry - requires rougher, more prolonged thrusting to experience the sensation necessary to trigger ejaculation.

(A prostitute who's had intercourse with literally thousands of men told me that intercourse with a circumcised man and intercourse with an uncircumcised man were two entirely different experiences, that she could always tell from the feeling alone whether a man was circumcised or uncircumcised, that circumcised men took longer to ejaculate, and that they "have to work at it.")

Which - a penis with its foreskin intact or a penis with its foreskin missing - is more likely to cause breaks, tears, micro-fractures, fissures, abrasions, and lacerations in a vagina or rectum through which the AIDS virus in the thrusting partner's semen could enter the receiving partner's bloodstream?

And which is more likely to break a condom?

The United States has one of highest male circumcision rates and one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world.

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (1-800-342-AIDS) reports that as of the end of 1993, more than 360,000 cases of AIDS and more than 220,000 AIDS-related deaths had been reported in the U.S., and that more than an million Americans - one in 200 - were estimated to be infected with the virus.

Does male circumcision contribute to the spread of AIDS?

Isn't it time to find out?

One more question: If a positive correlation between AIDS and circumcision were in fact established, would it be fully and accurately reported by the media in this country, or, like so many other facts about the foreskin and circumcision, would it be distorted, censored, and suppressed?

Very sincerely yours,

John A. Erickson (Mississippi)

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