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New York Gets Feedback From Gays on Circumcision: "Ouch'


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NEW YORK — New York City health officials are considering a program to urge circumcision for men at high risk of HIV, noting studies that the procedure can reduce the chances of getting the virus.

U.N. health agencies last week recommended circumcision for heterosexual men after studies in Africa found that the procedure reduced men's chances of contracting HIV by up to 60 percent. New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden has suggested to that circumcision could hold preventative promise in New York.

"New York City is the epicenter " or even the sphincter " of the AIDS epidemic in the United States," he said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was not sure what role the city should have, "but I think a round of cuts is the way to go."

The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has sought feedback from gay rights groups and community organizations about adult gay men being circumcised. The feedback was a resounding "ouch."

"That hurt like hell," said a gay man who was one of the first to be circumcised under the new program.

But some gay advocates were skeptical that surgery for gays was the answer.

"Should we require mutilation of gays?" said a spokesman for ACT-UP New York. "That's just the thin edge of the wedge, the tip of the iceberg, what's the point? Next they'll want to remove the gay gene.

"On the other hand, if we don't do this more men may die. So we have to balance human life with civil liberties. Hmm " I say we plug for civil liberties."

Julio Cesar
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