The Marketing Changes Again

Hospital Male Circumcision has been sold with evolving euphemisms in an attempt to hide the ethical flaw in the associated public health policies. First, it was Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision, which never meant voluntary or even medical. The only requirement was a penis with a foreskin. Then it changed to Medical Male Circumcision. That involved 50% less pretense, while retaining 100% of the ethical omission. Now, it’s changed again:

Health facilities across the country have run out of supplies for Safe Male Circumcision kits, an HIV expert has said.

It’s better that they dropped medical, but replacing it with safe is little better. First, males will suffer complications beyond the guaranteed loss of the foreskin. Most of them will be minor. Some of them will be significant. Safe will be false.

It’s also possible the word’s meaning will be misconstrued.

The medical practice is intended to prevent HIV infection but it is not 100% safe, medical experts claim.

According to World Health Organisation and United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) trials in Uganda, South Africa and Kenya have shown that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%.

I can’t fathom a scenario in which the public health officials intended safe to describe HIV after circumcision. Yet, that’s what this reporter took from it. That does not bode well. That’s a danger of propaganda. It’s inexcusable because there are lives at stake.

The premise of the article is worth addressing, too. They’ve run out of supplies. The article implies that they’re not circumcising while they lack supplies. That’s the right answer, of course, so I hope that’s what is happening. But I’m also concerned by the description of the kits as containing “reusable and disposable supplies”. Are they adhering to that distinction? And are the reusable supplies being sterilized properly?

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