I wanted to point out a significant error that appeared in the JTBest 2006 article in your January 19 issue. Specifically, in the “Best Mohel” section, you commented that circumcised men are less likely to pass on HIV and HPV to their partners.
This is a completely inaccurate characterization of the recently reported data surrounding male circumcision and HIV prevention.
In truth, being circumcised gives men an approximately 50 percent lower rate of becoming infected with HIV through heterosexual (vaginal) sex. There is no data yet to support claims that circumcision lowers the rate of transmission to a sex partner. There is also no data surrounding circumcision and HPV; in fact, some forms of HPV, such as anal warts, can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact and do not even require an exchange of bodily fluids during sex.
Additionally, the circumcision data does not address the risks for transmission during penile-anal sex (hetero- or homosexual), as this was not studied during the recent trials in Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa.
I hope that you will clarify this for your readers. While HIV infection does seem to be lower among members of the Jewish community, and circumcision may well play a role in that, people need to be mindful that the data do not show complete protection for the man, or for his sex partners. Safer sex using male or female condoms, abstinence, and using clean needles are still the best way to prevent becoming infected with HIV.