N.Y. health officials back circumcision

April 5, 2007 at 12:34 PM

NEW YORK, April 5 (UPI) -- New York health officials say they plan to endorse circumcision for men with high risks of contracting AIDS.

Officials at the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said the planned campaign to encourage the procedure was inspired by a recent World Health Organization announcement backing circumcision as an effective way to prevent the syndrome, The New York Times reported Thursday.

"New York City remains the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic" in the United States, said Thomas Frieden, the city's health commissioner.

"In some subpopulations, you have 10 to 20 percent prevalence rates (of human immunodeficiency virus), just as they do in parts of Africa," he said.

He said the department's campaign is encouraging community groups and gay rights organizations to inform their members of the benefits of circumcision and the department is asking the Health and Hospitals Corporation to provide the procedure at no cost for men without insurance.

The WHO said three clinical trials in Africa found that circumcision lowered a man's risk of contracting the virus from heterosexual sex by 60 percent.

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