To snip or not to snip? Male circumcision carries "low" risks but has "dramatic" benefits, according to draft guidelines released by the CDC yesterday. The long-awaited guidelines say that the procedure can greatly reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases for heterosexual men, reports Reuters, which notes that circumcision rates have dropped 10% to 58% over the last three decades. Circumcision is a personal decision, and the guidelines will stop short of recommending all newborn boys undergo the procedure, but "the scientific evidence is clear that the benefits outweigh the risks," a CDC spokesman tells the AP.
The CDC says that circumcision can reduce the risk of a man getting HIV or herpes from a female partner by around 50%. It also makes sex safer for female partners, although it doesn't appear to reduce the risk of contracting STDs during anal sex with other men. The draft guidelines—which will face stiff opposition from anti-circumcision groups—say the risk of complications from circumcision is only 0.5% for newborns, reports the Los Angeles Times. That rises to 9% among children, then drops to 5% among adults, though the guidelines—which say circumcised men "generally report minimal or no change in sexual satisfaction or function"—note that waiting for a boy to reach adolescence or adulthood lets him choose for himself. (California has banned attempts to ban circumcision.)