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Fewer Circumcisions Could Prove to be Costly

Being circumcised helps to reduce the risk of being infected with HIV

August 22, 2012- Today, fewer newborn boys are being circumcised and that could prove to add additional costs for health care when they get older. Over the last two decades, the rates for circumcision have dropped in the United States to 55% from a high of 79%. In addition, insurance coverage for the medical procedure is falling, particularly for those on Medicaid. That is one of the reasons for the decline overall in circumcisions.

However, three different studies found that being circumcised reduces the risk of being infected with HIV. Therefore, it has been recommended by the World Health Organization in certain places where the risks for HIV runs high. For example, Kenya, is even circumcising grown men to help slow down the virus’ spread in the country.

Being circumcised also helps reduce the risk of being infected with human papillomavirus and genital herpes. The practice may also reduce the amount of urinary tract infections that young boys sometimes develop. Later in life, female partners of men who are circumcised are less apt to develop certain infections.

Researchers at John Hopkins analyzed how the decline in rates of circumcision would affect the cost of health care in the future. For example, what would take place if the rate of circumcision dropped by 10%, which is the average now taking place in Europe. The change, either up or down, in infections of HIV is the largest factor.

The researchers determined that if the rate of circumcisions dropped by 10%, the increase annually in health care would be over a half a billion dollars.

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