06 July 2005

Yeah, but it hurts a little more than an injection


Apparently, the goal for an AIDS vaccine was to reduce the risk of infection by 30 percent. Doesn't sound like much, I know, but that may be enough to dramatically reduce, over time, the prevalence of HIV infection in the population.

A recent study, however, has discovered that a common surgical operation reduces the risk of infection by 70 percent. Unfortunately, it provides no direct protection for women, although they would benefit from the overall reduction in infection rate.

The operation? Circumcision.

A good question is how this would get implemented. The areas in Africa where circumcision is practiced already have low infection rates (for Africa, that is), and it's a little hard to imagine adult men in other areas lining up for the operation. And I would guess that most babies are born outside of a hospital, and so routinely doing it at birth would be much more difficult.

Maybe the best way to spend AIDS money would be to fund Jewish and Muslim missionaries. I'm sure there's something wrong with that idea — I'll have to think about it a bit more.