Medical circumcision 'accepted'

THE question of male circumcision is often a difficult one for doctors, says Australian Medical Association Northern Tasmanian spokesman Glenn Richardson. 

``All the evidence for several decades was quite convincing and everyone was pretty well convinced that it was not necessary unless there were medical reasons,'' Dr Richardson said yesterday.

``But then articles started to appear that it had been found to significantly reduce the rate of  HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in Third World countries.''

Dr Richardson was commenting on the recommendations from a major Tasmanian Law Institute report released this week.

It called for legislation to make it illegal for ``incapable minors'' to be circumcised.

The only exceptions for circumcisions that were not required for medical reasons would be to uphold well-established religious or culturally motivated customs, the report said.

Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne said that the government would consider the recommendations over the coming weeks.

Dr Richardson said that there was also some evidence that circumcised males had less incidence of sexually transmitted diseases in the gay community.

``So there has been some to-ing and fro-ing on the issue in recent times,'' he said. ``But in general doctors don't recommend it unless there is a medical reason.''

He said that there were countries such as Germany that had recently introduced a blanket ban on circumcision of minors without exemption.

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