Circumcision Must Go!

By George C. Denniston | 25 November 2012
Church and State

Editor’s note: George C. Denniston M.D., M.P.H. (Harvard), is President of Doctors Opposing Circumcision, an international organization with members on six continents. He cannot understand why Catholics and Mormons (he has been to their President with this question) do not protect their own against a practice that is only harmful to them, and has no religious significance. This is a brief essay by him to touch off the discussion.

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Circumcision has been around for a long time. We have recently reached a stage in human evolution where we are capable of recognizing it for what it is, and doing away with it.

Recently the District Court of Cologne, Germany declared in a landmark ruling that anyone who cuts boys foreskins for religious reasons is punishable for causing bodily injury. In its judgment, the Court made clear that neither the rights of the parents nor the freedom of religion guaranteed in Basic Law could justify this intervention.

At long last, a judicial entity has called a spade a spade. Circumcision is an assault on the individual, and no one, especially not a doctor, has the right to do this to another person. It constitutes a massive violation of the individual’s basic human rights. A doctor who performs a circumcision in Germany these days can be prosecuted.

Why do some individuals insist on doing this to other people? Leaving aside the religious commandment, there is another reason. Someone who has been deprived of half of the skin of his normal penis, with the 20,000 plus sensitive nerve endings, will never experience the joy of sex, as it was meant to be – in all mammals for the past 65 million years (all mammals have foreskins). So it should not be surprising to find a deep anger in many a victim. This anger often results in denial, which can manifest as a compulsion to circumcise, or to see to it that others are circumcised. When this tragic relationship generally becomes recognized, steps will be taken to prevent these compulsives from ruining the lives of so many others.

To help put this in perspective, lets compare a pedophile with a circumcising individual. Which is worse, a person who plays with a child’s penis, and harms him psychologically, or a person who tortures (by definition: torture is hurting another, whether intended or not), and permanently mutilates (again, by definition) another human being, and also harms him psychologically? We know how society reacts to a pedophile. How should it react to a circumciser? When the public fully recognizes what is going on, most will want to put an end to the tragic practice.

At this very moment, we are in the midst of the greatest scandal in American medical history. The Gates Foundation has given over One Billion dollars to circumcise some 600,000 African males, allegedly to prevent AIDS. Everyone knows that circumcision does not prevent AIDS. America has the highest rate of circumcision in the industrialized world, as well as the highest rate of AIDS. Most of these AIDS victims in America were already circumcised.

Circumcision plays no role in preventing AIDS. In fact, it will play a role in increasing the rate of AIDS in Africa. First there will be all the extra cases caused by dirty instruments during the surgery. At present about 30% of African AIDS is caused by doctors who fail to sterilize their instruments. Second, AIDS will increase because there will be less condom use. Men will believe the circumcision protects them, and they will no longer want to wear condoms because their sensitivity is now much decreased.

Even if circumcision were to be able to decrease AIDS by 60%, the claim made by the researchers, most everyone would still get AIDS eventually. So it is not an effective preventive. But the real indication of fraud is that the researchers cited relative risk, rather than absolute risk, which makes it seem so much more effective. The absolute risk was only about 1.3%. That might not have gotten them the money to carry out their nefarious scheme. So they cited relative risk at 60%. They wanted that money and they got it. This huge tragedy is a result of the compulsive nature of the victims, stopping at nothing to get others to suffer the same losses they suffered. When people begin to understand what is going on here, circumcision will no longer be tolerated.

Doctors Opposing Circumcision – George Denniston

Doctors Opposing Circumcision – HIV / AIDS

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  1. George, we were side by side making family planning available. I am sorry to be on the other side of the table on male circumcision. Where HIV is common it m/c has been rightly called 'an anatomical vaccine.'

    By the way, Gates has not given a billion dollars. I think their first grant I helped get for PSI was $23 million.

    I was astonished to see men waiting in line in Zimbabwe for m/c. They are savvy and they know uncircumcised ethnic groups like the Zulus (once circumcised until they fought the Brits in the 19th century) have a rate of AIDS while circumcised groups like the Mandela's group have a low rate. Lay people read epidemiology quite well the differences are huge.

    I still remember the flight you gave me in a seaplane in Seattle.

    I hope we are still friends, I love the idea of Network for Church Monitoring and concern over the Vatican. Martha and I were just in the Philippines where the bishops are opposing family planning, Malcolm (

    • Your discussion of uncircumcised ethnic groups having higher HIV is absolute nonsense. A 2009 USAID study found that in 10 of 18 countries with data available, circumcised men were MORE likely to have HIV.

      "There appears no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence." This was of course quickly discarded as it did not fit the pro-circumcision narrative. Here is the full report — check the chart on page 111:

  2. “Anatomical vaccine”-what a joke! In 1994, Blower estimated that a vaccine with 60% efficacy in preventing HIV infections would result in a higher rate of HIV infections than if there was no vaccine at all. This is because of risk compensation. Africans are not being fully informed of all the risks and side effects. In several African countries, circumcised males have higher prevalence of HIV than intact males. Rates are increasing in Uganda since the “circumcision campaign” because of risk compensation ie. not using condoms. If circumcision is such an effective “vaccine”, then why do men still have to use condoms?
    Why did circumcised males increase HIV transmission to women by 50%? Why is the rate of HIV transmission decreased if intact males wait 10 minutes before washing? Could those Langerhans cells actually be fighting infection? The African RCT’s were done in Africa because that is the only place the researchers could get away with this type of shoddy unethical studies. The RCT’s violate research ethics and would not be allowed in the U.S.
    Lay people in Africa have little understanding of epidemiology any more than the average American understands statistics and epidemiology. In fact, a recent study showed that African women had no idea what the term “partial protection” meant. The RCT’s do not show any 60% decrease; they show 1.3% decrease if you assume 100% sexual transmission, which we know is not the case. No conclusions can be reached from studies that did not track the source of the infections. Based on the number of men who became infected who reported no sexual activity or always using condoms, it would be expected that half the infections in these studies were not sexually transmitted. They are meaningless.
    Put the money into providing sterile needles and other equipment, ART’s, condoms, clean water and good food. This is what will decrease this epidemic. Provide basic health care and meet the needs of the people.

  3. What a wonderful piece by Dr. George Denniston against male mutilation otherwise known as circumcision. Too many NGOs in family planning think this stops HIV/AIDs. Be sure to hear the MD video at the end of the piece too. Many are wrong about its value including my dear friend Malcolm Potts. See his comment. If circumcision is only 60% effective after several coital events with an HIV infected women, the guy gets it!

  4. thank goodness for people like Dr. Denniston and all the others involved in DOC. The truth must be told and they are doing it. The barbarism against infants must end.

  5. Thank you Dr. Denniston for speaking up for the human rights of all children. Bodily integrity is a basic human right.

    Genital cutting of any child is abuse. The sooner all children are protected by law from this barbaric relic of the past the better.


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