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Bloomberg unsure
about promoting circumcision

Bloomberg unsure
about promoting circumcision

New York City health officials are considering a campaign to urge circumcision for men at a high risk of contracting AIDS after recent international studies found the procedure can dramatically reduce the risk.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday that he was still not sure what role the city should have in the issue, ''whether it's something that the government should be involved in, or just giving advice and making sure that people get educated.''

The city health department has asked some gay rights groups and community organizations to discuss circumcision with their members and has approached the agency that runs city hospitals and health clinics about the possibility of offering the procedure for free to uninsured men. However, a spokeswoman for the hospital agency, the Health and Hospitals Corporation, said it had not decided.

United Nations health agencies last week recommended circumcision for heterosexual men, after three studies in Africa found that the procedure reduced men's chances of contracting HIV by up to 60%.

Calling New York City ''the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic'' in the United States, Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden suggested to The New York Times that circumcision could have promising preventative results here, despite differences between the populations at risk in Africa and in New York.

The African studies, conducted in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa, involved men who said they had sex with women. In New York, those at highest risk are men who are injection drug users and their sexual partners as well as men who have sex with men, the Times said.

About 65% of all male babies in the United States are circumcised, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Worldwide, about 30% of men are, the World Health Organization estimates.

In New York, black, Hispanic and foreign-born men are less likely to be circumcised than white Americans, Frieden said.(AP)

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