Circumcision Fight: Profit, Pleasure, or Population Control?
By Kuumba Chi Nia
If the experiment fails, Africans are likely to feel abused and exploited by scientists who recommended the circumcision policy
“It is important that, while circumcision interventions are being planned, several points must be considered carefully. If the experiment fails, Africans are likely to feel abused and exploited by scientists who recommended the circumcision policy. In a region highly sensitive to previous colonial exploitation and suspicious of the biological warfare origin of the virus, failure of circumcision is likely to be a big issue. Those recommending it should know how to handle the political implications.” - James P.M. Ntozi.
Using circumcision to prevent HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa
African people worldwide know about experimentation in the name of scientific advancement. However, often-vital information goes without mention and the outcome devastates the victim as in the case with the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment in Alabama, USA. This is precisely why suspicion remains around HIV\AIDS reduction experiments, but with little investigative attention by the corporate media groups.
The good scientists would have us to believe that their efforts are to reduce HIV in the most vulnerable areas in the world.
Africa is the death basket of HIV, but my hypothesis is that the current misuse of science is driven more so by profit and population control. More than 1.2 million babies are circumcised in the U.S. per year at the cost range for $150 million to $270 million. The procedure is optional, but it is strongly suggested by medical doctors. What happens to foreskin? Foreskin removal represents a bio material waste management issue, but what scientist would simply discard of the all this skin? They would not discard it so easily as long as it can be sold and used for beautifying women.
Alternet posted a story February 9, 2007 Foreskin Face Cream and Future Beauty Products, which illustrates the profitability of foreskin as follows:
“The Coriell Institute is only one of dozens of websites that offer foreskin fibroblast for sale." Foreskin flakes cost $85.00 -- plus shipping and handling. Foreskin fibroblasts are big business. A fibroblast is a piece of human skin that is used as a culture to grow other skin or cells -- like human yogurt kits.
According to the Alternet article Foreskin Face Cream and Future Beauty
Products, “human foreskin fibroblast is used in all kinds of medical
procedures.” For example, foreskin is used for burn victims and for eyelid
replacement and for those with diabetic ulcers (who need replacement skin to
cover ulcers that won't heal), to making creams and collagens in the cosmetics
industry (yes, the product that is injected into puffy movie-starlet lips).
One foreskin can be used for decades to produce miles of skin and generate as much as $100,000 -- that's not the fee from a one-time sale, but the fees from the fibroblasts that are created from those original skin cells.
One of the most publicized examples of the foreskin-for-sale trend involves a skin cream that has been promoted by none other than Oprah Winfrey, according to the article. SkinMedica, a face cream, costs more than $100 for a 0.63-oz. bottle, used by many high-profile celebrities (such as Winfrey and Barbara Walters) as an alternative to cosmetic surgery. Winfrey has promoted the SkinMedica product several times on her show, and her website, which raves about "a new product that boosts collagen production and can rejuvenate skin called TNS Recovery Complex. TNS is comprised from six natural human growth factors found in normal healthy skin ... the factors are engineered from human foreskin!"
On Winfrey’s show, the doctor promoting SkinMedica cream warned that some people may have ethical questions regarding using a product that is made from the derivative of foreskins (to which Winfrey made no response). Why is an ethical question? The foreskins come from circumcisions, and male circumcision is now a controversial topic. In a discussion on Mothering.com, the question raised, "If the cream was made from the bi-product of baby Afro-American clitoral skin, would Oprah still be promoting it?" There's no answer to that question on Mothering or Winfrey's site, and Winfrey declined a request for an interview for this article.” The next question is what is the science of circumcision?
“WebMD Medical News,” June 9, 2000 article “The Foreskin: An Open Door for HIV” pointed out the “The foreskin of the uncircumcised penis is a welcome mat for HIV,” at the time of a study. “The finding [at the time] strengthens a growing consensus among public health experts that both infant and adolescent circumcision programs ought to be a major tool in the fight to stop AIDS, especially in countries where HIV is rampant.”
Roger V. Short, ScD, professor of obstetrics/gynecology at the University of Melbourne Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and Robert Szabo, “analyzed penis tissues from autopsies of 13 men age 60 to 96 years, seven of whom had been circumcised.” Among their findings was that the inner side foreskin is rich in a type of cell that carries HIV to T cells. The T cell is the cell where the virus replicates itself.
Africa became the logical experimental lab namely Uganda. On July 10, 2000, more questions surfaced in light of the experiment. “WebMD Medical News,” printed the article, “Male Circumcision as the Answer to the African AIDS Epidemic?” However, the push was still for removing the foreskin. The article read that “About 25 million Africans [had] AIDS or are infected with the HIV virus . . . many of [them lived] . . . where circumcision” was not a regular practice. In Gauteng province of Azania\South Africa the Orange Farm experiment took in 3000 or better African males from a town’s population of 350,000. Circumcision is supposed to reduce the disease by millions yearly. In Gauteng the estimated HIV prevalence among antenatal clinical attendees in the year 2000 was 29.4 percent and increased to 32.4% in 2005. The Orange Farm snip happy pappy proved wrong, with the notable increase of HIV and AIDS statistics for South Africa.
More than 20-years passed since the initial claim surfaced that there is a correlation between a lack of circumcised African men and HIV versus circumcised African men. The French and U.S. are leading the way with World Health Organization support.
The “San Francisco Chronicle” reported on July 6, 2005, “Medical anthropologists began noticing as early as 1989 that the highest rates of HIV infection in Africa were occurring in regions of the continent where the predominant tribal or religious cultures did not practice circumcision.”
The lead medical scientists are Dr. Betran Auvert of the University of Paris and Adrian Puren of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases and Ronald Gray a Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Ronald Gray are conducting an experiment in Uganda of 5,000 men in the Rakai district. The same experiment occurred in Kenya with more than 2,700 men being snipped. The experiments termination date is in 2007. The findings are generalizations that are neither conclusive nor exhaustive and therefore represent a problem in male circumcision and the role in HIV prevention?
In the tradition of bogus science, the data that was presented by advocates of circumcision remained inconclusive and dangerous as pointed out by De Vincenzi and Mertens (1994) with “the salient point that most of the quoted studies were not designed to test a hypothesis about circumcision and did not report their methodological details for evaluation.”
Furthermore, “there is no evidence that enough statistical rigors (sic) were applied to the data.” That is inconclusive information. Meanwhile, “where, in small-scale studies, this was done by controlling for several variables like age, number of partners, [and] contact with prostitutes, ethnic origin and findings that did not fit into the conventional thinking of the hypothesis were rejected by the journals as not interesting, or the researchers did not submit them for publication for fear of rejection.”
The good doctors know that there is nothing conclusive about their work as admitted by Dr. Auvert: Circumcision "prevented six to seven out of 10 potential HIV infections," said Auvert. He said the study did not analyze the effect of circumcision on male-to-female transmission or if circumcision provides effective protection over the long term. At least three more studies are under way to confirm the effectiveness of circumcision. Dr. Auvert and company said the study was cause for guarded optimism.
These experiments continue but do not work. An experiment like this should have never been practiced and funded, and represents bad science. It is more likely to isolate the African masses from medical scientist, and treatments that touted as lifesavers, while they fall short of reducing HIV/AIDS in Africa.
“It is important that, while circumcision interventions are being planned, several points must be considered carefully. If the experiment fails, Africans are likely to feel abused and exploited by scientists who recommended the circumcision policy. In a region highly sensitive to previous colonial exploitation and suspicious of the biological warfare origin of the virus, failure of circumcision is likely to be a big issue. Those recommending it should know how to handle the political implications.” - James P.M. Ntozi
--Kuumba Chi Nia is a Mathaba author.