New Study: Declining U.S. Circumcision Rate To Increase Sexual Diseases
According to a just-published Johns Hopkins University study, the declining U.S. rate of newborn circumcision will result in higher health costs for the nation when these boys become sexually active adults.
About 55 percent of the 2 million males born each year in America are circumcised, a decrease from 79 percent in the 1980s, according to the report in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The procedure, which removes the foreskin from the tip of the penis where bacteria and viruses accumulate, is linked to fewer cases of HIV, herpes, genital warts and genital cancers among men and their sexual partners. “If there were a vaccine that reduced HIV infection, genital herpes and warts, penile cancer, cervical cancer and bacterial vaginosis, it would be promoted as a game changing intervention, and all physicians would encourage their patients to get it,” said Aaron Tobian, a health epidemiologist and pathologist at Johns Hopkins and senior researcher on the study.Medicaid coverage for circumcision has been dropped in many states and the above-linked study notes that private insurers have followed suit.
“The difference is this is a surgery with very minor complications, and it also has a cultural tone to it.” The lack of protection may boost U.S. health-care costs by $4.4 billion if rates plunge in the next decade to levels seen in Europe, where 10 percent of boys are circumcised, according to the analysis by health economists at Johns Hopkins. Each time a circumcision is avoided, $313 is added in direct illness- related expenses, after taking into account the cost of the procedure, Tobian said in a telephone interview. “All state Medicaid and private insurers should cover male circumcision and we should eliminate all of the current barriers,” he said. “Families should discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with their physicians and decide what is best for them.”