Circumcision or the removal of the foreskin of the penis has been practiced for over 2,500 years and currently is tied to rites of several religious traditions. "Circumcision is now the most common surgery performed on males in the United States. In a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the period 1999 to 2004, 79 percent of men reported that they were circumcised."
There has been an active debate over recent years regarding circumcision, with one group asserting it is cruel and painful with another asserting it has and should be done for health related reasons, such as a reduction of HIV transmission. Both groups not only feel passionately about their positions, they are also bringing science into the mix.
Several test have been conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the world has been most deeply devastated by HIV/AIDS, revealing "that circumcised men were 54 percent less likely to get HIV than uncircumcised men." Circumcision "removes what are called Langerhans cells in the foreskin, which are more susceptible to HIV infection." Other studies ave gone further to demonstrate that an HIV positive man who was circumcised reduced the the likelihood that the female partner would become infected by 30 percent. But at the end of the day, these statistics in Africa are viewed as a distinct situation from that of the United States.
In San Francisco there is a currently a proposal to ban circumcision, and would "make circumcision of any male under the age of 18 a misdemeanor and carry with it a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to one year." If the ban receives more than 12,000 signatures it will appear on the ballot in November. "According to Reuters reports, Lloyd Schofield, the leader of the proposal, says circumcision is "excruciatingly painful and permanently damaging surgery that's forced on men when they're at their weakest and most vulnerable." While the CDC disagrees, it will be up to voters to decide.