Circumcision in Africa to combat AIDS?

By George L. Anesi

The U.N. is backing it because studies suggest it dramatically reduces the rate of HIV transmission. I’ve heard this before and scientifically, am convinced it to be the case.Harvard economics Ph.D. student Emily Oster is probably on board. This Esquire article detailing her findings of “Three Things You Don’t Know About Aids In Africa” (via Freakonomics) posits that HIV and AIDS in Africa is not such a big problem because there is simply more of it but rather because it spreads much faster in Africa than it does in Europe and the United States. This is due primarily to the prevalence of other sexual transmitted diseases that provide better methods of transmission. If those diseases are treated–and they are much easier to treat–transmission rates will plunge and with them, the number of new cases. That is lives saved any way you cut it (and will be much less expensive than treating HIV and AIDS themselves). Her larger theory is: slow the transmission and you slow the disease–treating other STDs works, as does condom distribution…evidently, so does circumcision.On the downside, this guy won’t be too happy.