Crowdsurfing at the No Pants Dance Party at the International AIDS Conference. All photos by DEANation.
When I heard that the 20th International AIDS Conference was coming to town, I didn’t think I would wind up contributing by shouting the lyrics to “I Want to Break Free” alongside two Freddy Mercury doppelgangers, while wearing only my skivvies. But that’s exactly what happened.
Two recent documentaries, two different coasts, one scary enemy, and hundreds of hours of footage. This is the history and legacy of the AIDS crisis in North America, as told by the cameras and concerned filmmakers who were there.
This isn't a post about feminism specifically, but it is about an item some feminists hold near and dear: penises. The U.S. government's Center for Disease Control (CDC) is considering promoting routine circumcision of all American males. They hope cutting off men's foreskins will also cut their risk of transmitting HIV/AIDS. But the CDC's study shows that circumcision does not reduce HIV transmission among the group most at risk in the U.S.: gay males.
Almost 80 percent of American males are circumcised already and many consider circumcision a routine surgery for cultural reasons as well as to reduce the risk of infection. But some people, especially some men who had no say in the matter, push back against the norm.
Obviously, anything that science can do to stem the AIDS epidemic is a welcome discovery. But it's not clear at all that recommending all American males get circumcised would have a significant impact on HIV in America. Groundbreaking studies showed that in Africa, circumcision could reduce transmission of HIV up to 50 percent. But those studies focused on heterosexual sex. The CDC found that the HIV transmission rate among American gay men was the same regardless of whether or not they possessed a foreskin. It looks like circumcision doesn't provide the same protection against AIDS during anal sex as it does during vaginal.
Personally, I find it troubling to promote a surgical procedure on millions of people without their consent (even if they're too young to do anything more than pee and gurgle) without some solid stats proving it could save their lives later on. It's bunk to recommend circumcising all men based on research showing it may only benefit the straights.