A team of experts at Johns Hopkins warns that a steady decline in US male circumcision procedures may increase the risk of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and cervical and penile cancers. This may mean billions of dollars in avoidable healthcare costs over the next decade if male circumcisions continues to decline.
Male circumcision -- a procedure that removes the foreskin at the tip of the penis -- hinders the buildup of bacteria and viruses in the skin folds of the penis. Without this procedure, men are at an increased risk for developing HPV-related cancers, and so are their partners.
Aaron Tobian, MD, PhD, a health epidemiologist and pathologist and the senior study investigator, said in a press release that the percentage of US male infants who are circumcised has dropped from a high of 79 percent in the 1970s and 1980s to roughly 55 percent now.
"There are health benefits to infant male circumcision in guarding against illness and disease, and declining male circumcision rates come at a severe price, not just in human suffering, but in billions of health care dollars as well," he said.
Tobian and his colleagues say the 20-year decline in the number of male circumcisions has cost the nation nearly $2 billion in illness-related expenses -- which may have been avoided if these men had undergone the procedure.
Why are male circumcisions on the decline? Tobian says state Medicaid funding cuts have substantially reduced the number of US infant male circumcisions; 18 states have stopped paying for the procedure.
The Johns Hopkins team says it plans to share its findings with officials across the US to raise awareness of the medical and cost benefits of insurance covering circumcision procedures.
If circumcision rates continue to decrease, the incidence of HPV-related cancers such as cervical, head and neck, and penile cancers may increase, especially among those who do not adhere to the HPV vaccination guidelines and do not complete all three vaccines.
Do you feel universal insurance coverage for this type of procedure is necessary in order to decrease the cancer risk among the US population?