Physician group shifts stance on infant male circumcision

The New York Times reports, “The American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] has shifted its stance on infant male circumcision, announcing that new research, including studies in Africa suggesting that the procedure may protect heterosexual men against HIV, indicated that the health benefits outweighed the risks.”

However, “the academy stopped short of recommending routine circumcision for all baby boys, saying the decision remains a family matter.”

USA Today reports that “the statement replaces a more neutral stance held by the doctors’ group since 1999.”

The Los Angeles Times reports, “Medicaid programs in 18 states – including California – as well as some health insurance companies have stopped paying for the procedure,” but “the new policy could bring about a shift in affordability. The guidelines now make plain that the benefits of circumcision are great enough to ‘justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns.'”

The AP (8/27) reports, “The CDC also participated in the review, and will consider the academy’s updated policy in preparing its own recommendations, a CDC spokesman said. The agency has a fact sheet summarizing circumcision’s potential health benefits and risks but no formal guidelines.”

The Huffington Post reports that Dr. Douglas Diekema, a member of the academy’s circumcision task force, said, “The tone of the policy certainly shifts somewhat in favor of circumcision in that it recognizes that there are clear medical benefits that outweigh the risks of the procedure, and that those benefits are sufficient to justify coverage by insurance.”

MedPage Today reports that the AAP “found the procedure offers several benefits, including the prevention of urinary tract infection, penile cancer, and the transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, particularly HIV.”

The new statement is published in Pediatrics.

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