ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) –– A new study claims that the decline in male circumcisions performed on newborn males could lead to a $4 billion increase in health care costs for American men and women.

The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine on Aug. 20, found that male circumcisions played an integral role in reducing infections for men and their sexual partners.

Male circumcision is a surgical procedure, usually performed at birth, that removes a portion of – or the entirety of – the foreskin from the penis.

However, over the past 20 years, the rate at which the procedure is performed has declined from 79 percent to 55 percent, according to research conducted by a team including Drs. Kevin D. Frick, Charlotte A. Gaydos and Aaron A. R. Tobian, as well as Seema Kacker, BS.

“Our economic evidence is backing up what our medical evidence has already shown to be perfectly clear,” Tobian, the author’s study and an assistant professor of epidemiology and pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a written statement, according to CBS News. “There are health benefits to infant male circumcision in guarding against illness and disease, and declining male circumcision rates come at a severe price, not just in human suffering, but in billions of health care dollars as well.”

The results could lead to an increased need for medical care.

“Reducing the [male circumcision] rate to 10 percent will increase lifetime health care costs by $407 per male and $43 per female,” a summary of the study indicated. “Continued decreases in [male circumcision] rates are associated with increased infection prevalence, thereby increasing medical expenditures for men and women.”

Specific viruses and infections were of concern to those conducting the study.

“Lifetime prevalence of [HIV] infection among males is expected to increase by 12.2 percent, …high- and low-risk human papillomavirus by 29.1 percent, … herpes simplex virus type 2 by 19.8 percent, … and infant urinary tract infections by 211.8 percent,” researchers discovered.

Similar spikes in HPV are anticipated in women, as well as an increase in the number of reported cases of bacterial vaginosis.

The study utilized a Monte Carlo simulation – algorithms that draw from random sampling of data to compile results – to analyze the effects of decreased circumcisions throughout the lifetimes of both men and women.


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