Letter to Time Magazine: Circumcision to Stop HIV Not Medical Breakthrough

Attorneys for the Rights of the Child

2961 Ashby Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705
510-595-5550

December 19, 2007

Editor
Time Magazine
letters@time.com

Editor:

We were surprised to see that the list of the “10 Biggest Medical Breakthroughs” in your December 24 issue (Catherine Guthrie, p. 84) included as number 2 “circumcision can prevent HIV.” In fact, the three studies that purport to show this suffer from fatal flaws that have been pointed to by numerous physicians and even leading HIV organizations in Australia and France. Recent reports indicate that the United Nations and other influential bodies have significantly exaggerated the number of people affected by HIV and AIDS. Moreover, for well over a decade the number of new individuals being infected with HIV has been in decline.

The most common medical procedure in the US is the only one never shown to be medically justified to stop HIV or for any other reason. It is untenable, bordering on absurd, to suggest that flawed results regarding adult circumcision in Africa are remotely applicable to circumcision of infants in the US. Modalities of transmission and sociological conditions are vastly different. In Africa, one of the most common ways to become infected is through a visit to a health clinic! Moreover, the circumcision experiment has already been tried and failed here, as the US has both the highest circumcision rate and the highest HIV rate in the developed world.

With your position as one of the world’s premier news journals comes the responsibility to investigate and publish the truth. We ask that you set the record straight on this issue.

J. Steven Svoboda
Executive Director
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child

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