Monday, January 29, 2007

New AIDS vaccine? Not so much...

Yesterday I received an email from my friend Tom whom I've known for nearly 20 years. Tom and I met during my first week of college and became fast friends. Much like myself, Tom has never been one to shy away from expressing an opinion, and in fact our mutual passion on issues that are important to us has been one of the many bonds of our friendship over the years.

Tom's email was to inform me that a letter he wrote in response to a NY Times article had been published (albeit edited) in yesterday's NY Times magazine. The article in question was by a Tina Rosenberg who quite outrageously and irresponsibly (in my opinion and Tom's, too) equates circumcision with an AIDS vaccine. She cites studies done in Africa that show a fifty percent reduction in HIV rates among circumcised men compared to their uncircumcised counterparts. She claims that this fifty percent "success rate" is the best we can hope for in an AIDS vaccine even though it only protects the circumcised man and not his partner. She neglects to mention the millions of circumcised men living with HIV, however.

By Rosenberg's reasoning, condoms, which are widely known to prevent HIV 70 to 100 percent of the time, should have been touted as a "vaccine" years ago. There are so many problems with her claims it's hard to know where to begin but Tom brings up one of the many issues in his response below. You can also read responses from other readers by clicking here. Tom writes:
The foreskin is a vital part of the male sexual mechanism, and it seems inappropriately easy for a woman to suggest that a man cut off part of his genitals when the opposite suggestion would be greeted with outrage. For centuries, circumcision has been said to cure everything from demonic possession to madness. This study is another in a long line of witch-doctoring. I foresee men failing to protect themselves (or their partners) during intercourse by reasoning, Don’t worry, I’m circumcised.

You can read Tom's unedited response on his blog, The Daily Rocket. Rock on, Tom!

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At 11:01 AM, Blogger Spider said...

Circumcision and condoms as vaccines... well, we all know how well they work for preventing pregnancy...

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Lotuslander said...

I haven't seen the History Boys, but you've piqued my curiosity. I agree with Eric that for far too long the p.c. gay person was overly prevalent in movies, and for me it's refreshing to see flawed, and even tragic portrayals. Just as long as we see the other side as well. I loved David on Six Feet Under, because he was a complex, fully fleshed, conflicted person.


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