Assigned Reading: Officials Weigh Circumcision to Fight HIV Risk
(FROM: The New York Times)
If you’d like a glimpse of how the federal government would handle its new responsibilities as health care provider and arbiter, look no further than today’s New York Times. The article describes a new push by public health officials to promote routine circumcision for all boys born in the United States.
When I read “promote” in the Times, I actually see “mandate.” And from the language used by a honcho at the Centers for Disease Control, I think that’s a fair assessment:
But Dr. Peter Kilmarx, chief of epidemiology for the division of H.I.V./AIDS prevention at the C.D.C., said that any step that could thwart the spread of H.I.V. must be given serious consideration.
“We have a significant H.I.V. epidemic in this country, and we really need to look carefully at any potential intervention that could be another tool in the toolbox we use to address the epidemic,” Dr. Kilmarx said. “What we’ve heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.”
Now, add to the equation the costs involved in treating people with HIV and AIDS. Should the government inject itself into the health care business, it will surely mandate measures like circumcision to prevent HIV from a cost perspective alone. And why stop there? We already see steps taken by the government to limit access to cigarettes among military personnel. Are trans fats next? Non-whole-grain pasta? Whole milk?
Permitting the government to have even a say in health care in America is to allow government into the nooks and crannies of each American’s daily life. Control over every aspect can be rationalized by exploiting a relationship with downhill health care costs. And, if the government is willing to aggressively promote–i.e. mandate–circumcision to ward off a disease that can largely be prevented, do you really think it would somehow stop at the door to your refrigerator? To your bedroom? To your car?