Thursday, July 07, 2005


Tule is the Filipino word for circumcision. It is a word filled with significance for every Filipino male. The process of becoming tule (circumcised) from being supot (uncircumcised) is the process of becoming a man from being merely a boy.

Evey year, thousands of Filipino young men undergo this ritual. The risk is after all slight (it is after all minor surgery), the benefits quite significant (to be seen as responsible and grown up by your family and peers), and the consequences of remaining "supot" quite dire (humiliation in front of everybody that knows).

I raise this point because of a news story I read from the Asian Wall Street Journal (subscription required) also reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, and MSNBC.

According to the Asian Wall Street Journal (July 6, 2005, page A7, column 1)
"French and South African Researchers have apparently found that male circumcision reduces by about 70% the risk that men will contract HIV through intercourse with infected women."
The study also suggests that
"women could benefit indirectly (from being infected with AIDS) because circumcision would reduce the chances their partners would be HIV-positive."
the study
"was conducted with more than 3,000 HIV-negative men ages 18-24 from a South African township...Half the men were randomly assigned to be circumcised and the other half to remain uncircumcised...after all the men have been followed for a year...the data showed the circumcised group fared much better. For every 10 uncircumcised men in the study who contracted HIV, only about three circumcised men did so"
But before Filipino men celebrate, it should be noted that
"the study's basic findings...haven't been published, so most experts haven't evaluated them."
And even if further analysis and research does validate the findings
"circumcision doesn't make a person immune to infection. Indeed if men abandon safer sex practices because they think the surgery completely protects them, then HIV transmission could rise."
Not to mention the fact that there are other STD's that can infect you aside from HIV.

Update 3/29/2007:

The World Health Organization and UNAIDS said circumcision should be added to current interventions to reduce the spread of HIV. Three African trials have shown that circumcision halved the rate of HIV infection in heterosexual men. Story here.

Random Notes:

Yesterday, Mr. Allan Paguia admitted that he released the Gloriagate tape to the public disregarding the expressed instruction of his client, former Senator Francisco Tatad, not to do so. And he wonders why his license to practice law was suspended by the Supreme Court.

Also yesterday, after avowing that he is not interested in regaining the presidency, former President Estrada remarked that he will not reject the office if it was offered to him.

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