Circumcision Saved My Life
San Francisco's proposed ban on the practice could lead to more HIV infections.
By DIANE COLE
This is the story of how my husband's circumcision saved my life.
It's a personal story, but let it also serve as a public health rebuttal to the proposed ban on male circumcision that will be on the San Francisco ballot this November.
San Francisco's ballot initiative would prohibit circumcision on all males under the age of 18. It would allow no religious exemptions, and it apparently gives no regard to the numerous studies demonstrating that male circumcision can substantially reduce—by more than 50%—the transmission of the HIV virus during sex.
"Communities, and especially women, may benefit much more from circumcision interventions than had previously been predicted, and these results provide an even greater imperative to increase scale-up of safe male circumcision services," concludes a study published this year in the peer-reviewed journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Peter, my husband, was born with hemophilia, best known as the disease of Victorian royals (and for good reason, since the guilty gene passed through the brood of Queen Victoria right down to the doomed young son of Russia's last czar). Those who suffer from hemophilia lack the crucial factor in the blood that makes it clot.
When we are cut, we all bleed—usually, we need only a Band-Aid and some pressure to stem the flow. Except for the most minor injuries, hemophiliacs almost always need more. Specifically, they need a transfusion of the blood factor of which their DNA made them bankrupt.
As a result of one such clotting factor transfusion prior to 1985, Peter became HIV-positive.