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Decrease in circumcision rates may lead to higher healthcare costs in U.S.

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggest that the decline in infant male circumcision rates in the U.S. during the last two decades has cost the American healthcare system $2 billion. These expenses stem from the care provided to men and women who screen positive for diseases in STD tests.

The study authors assert that removal of the male foreskin makes it less likely that the penis can harbor pathogens, therefore decreasing the risk of HIV, HPV, herpes, genital warts, penile cancer and, in female partners, cervical cancer.

Currently, 55 percent of males born in the U.S. are circumcised, down from 79 percent during the 1970s and 1980s. The rate in Europe is 10 percent.

Based on the researchers' economic models, if American rates of infant male circumcision fall to European rates, 12 percent, 29 percent, 19 percent and 211 percent more men would contract HIV, HPV, herpes simplex virus and urinary tract infections, respectively. Meanwhile, the number of cases of bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis would double for female partners, while HPV infections would increase by 18 percent.

The rates of infant male circumcision may be falling because some states' Medicaid programs no longer cover the procedure. The researchers plan to share this study with several government officials across the U.S.

Whether men are circumcised, safe sex practices and routine STD tests are still important.

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