Foreskin activists to protest TED talk by Bill and Melinda Gates in Vancouver

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      When Bill and Melinda Gates take the stage on Tuesday evening (March 18) at Vancouver's first TED conference, there will be a small group of protesters outside.

      A bunch of activists calling themselves the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project plan to speak out against the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's funding of male circumcision as part of HIV/AIDS efforts in Africa.

      CAN-FAP founder Glen Callender says in a news release:

      No one on Earth is more detrimental to foreskin than Bill Gates. Gates’ astronomical mass circumcision funding will result in tens of millions of men and boys being circumcised, which will make him directly responsible for more unnecessary circumcisions than any other living person. And that’s why CAN-FAP will be publicly declaring Gates ‘Foreskin enemy #1’ on Tuesday.

      In a 2012 letter, posted on his foundation's website, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates claims male circumcision "reduces HIV transmission by up to 70 percent". In May 2013, the foundation allocated US$1.2 million to the World Health Organization to fund the "prequalification of devices to assist in performing circumcisions and the development of guidelines on the use of devices".

      Gates's letter states:

      Over 1 million men ages 15–49 have been circumcised in 14 Southern and Eastern African countries with large AIDS epidemics, but that is only 5 percent of the total number who could benefit from the procedure. Even in the ancient practice of circumcision, innovation has the potential to make a big difference. The new PrePex and Shang Ring devices simplify the procedure and make surgery unnecessary. The first studies suggest that these devices are both safe and effective. (I will keep this letter G-rated by leaving out the pictures of how the devices work.) Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania are starting to show leadership by getting the message out to all young men that it is important to get circumcised. Kenya has made the most progress, circumcising 70 percent of eligible men. I will be very disappointed if, by 2015, any fewer than 15 million young men have chosen to protect themselves and their partners by getting circumcised.

      Callender maintains that cutting off the foreskin from penises will not protect men from HIV and may actually give them "false confidence". His group is calling on the Gates Foundation to end its support for circumcision and redirect that funding (totalling US$145 million so far, according to CAN-FAP) to condoms and other effective methods.

      In CAN-FAP's release, Callender states:

      Gates has clearly listened to the world’s most ardent circumcision promoters, but has he listened to a leading foreskin advocate? I challenge him to hear the other side of the story. If you put Bill Gates in a four by four metre room with me and my foreskin for exactly 44 minutes, he will emerge convinced that circumcision is not just the wrong way to solve the HIV crisis — it’s wrong, period.

      Will Gates accept Callender's invitation to meet him "face-to-face-to-foreskin"? We'll have to wait and see.

      CAN-FAP founder Glen Callender speaking outside the B.C. legislature in 2012.

      CAN-FAP calls itself "Canada’s feistiest pro-foreskin advocacy group". Its website says they "advocate for the human right of all children — male, female and intersex — to grow up with intact genitals. In other words, all children have an inalienable right to their own bodies, and no one has the right to amputate another person’s healthy, normal genital tissue without their informed consent."

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      65 Comments

      Alan Ranta

      Mar 17, 2014 at 12:54pm

      Why stop at the foreskin? Cutting those dicks all the way off would have a 100% protection rate against HIV. Women don't want to have sex as much without clitorises too, so you best cut those off too. Mutilating all the genitals in Africa would definitely reduce HIV. Great idea, Bill!

      SW

      Mar 17, 2014 at 1:06pm

      Bill Gates doesn't actually deserve that much attention.

      Leo

      Mar 17, 2014 at 1:24pm

      CAN-FAP. They couldn't have named themselves better lol.

      bela the bug

      Mar 17, 2014 at 1:24pm

      Foreskin Activism: The pinnacle of insanity brought to you by the certifiable loons in the evangelical community of xian lunatics and premature ejaculators.

      Mark Lyndon

      Mar 17, 2014 at 1:36pm

      From a USAID report:
      "There appears no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence—in 8 of 18 countries with data, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries it is higher."
      http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/CR22/CR22.pdf

      It seems highly unrealistic to expect that there will be no risk compensation. The South African National Communication Survey on HIV/AIDS, 2009 found that 15% of adults across age groups "believe that circumcised men do not need to use condoms".
      http://www.info.gov.za/issues/hiv/survey_2009.htm

      It is unclear if circumcised men are more likely to infect women. The only ever randomized controlled trial into male-to-female transmission showed a 54% higher rate in the group where the men had been circumcised:
      http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)60998-3/abstract

      ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, and especially Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery seems likely to cost African lives rather than save them.

      Europeans don't circumcise, South Americans don't circumcise, Australians and New Zealanders used to circumcise but stopped, and less than half of North Americans circumcise. Why should Africans circumcise?

      Recent news from Botswana
      "There is an upsurge of cases of people who got infected with HIV following circumcision."
      http://www.gabzfm.com/circumcised-men-still-run-risk-hiv-infection

      and from Zimbabwe:
      "SOME circumcised men are contracting HIV and Aids after ditching the use of condoms, under a misguided belief that male circumcision (MC) would prevent them from getting infected"
      http://www.thestandard.co.zw/2013/11/10/circumcised-men-indulge-risky-se...

      Joseph4GI

      Mar 17, 2014 at 1:45pm

      Bill Gates is believed ad crumenam. He is no medical expert, just schmuck with a lot of money, so people listen. Riddle me this, Dr., oh, erm, uh, I mean MISTER Gates, if circumcision is so effective at reducing HIV transmission, why doesn't the US fare so well? 80% of all males are circumcised from birth. And yet, according to the CIA Factbook, the US has a higher HIV prevalence rate than 53 countries where circumcision is rare (eg, falls below 20%). How is something that never worked in a first world country like the US suddenly going to start working miracles in Africa? HIV was more prevalent amongst CIRCUMCISED men in 10 out of 18 African countries, according to USAID. Millions of dollars down the drain, at the expense of boys and men. All for a PR project.

      Ron Low

      Mar 17, 2014 at 1:46pm

      Most of the US men who have died of AIDS were circumcised at birth. How did Gates get bamboozled out of million$ over such a fruitless effort as foreskin amputation?

      Circumcision alters sex dramatically. Foreskin feels REALLY good. HIS body, HIS decision.

      RUK

      Mar 17, 2014 at 2:04pm

      He should run around pantslessly, that is always both inspiring and persuasive.

      458

      Mar 17, 2014 at 2:25pm

      Dicks with foreskin look terrible!

      Helmut

      Mar 17, 2014 at 2:57pm

      Foreskin activism is an annoying by-product of the self-esteem movement. What next? Protest the removal of wisdom teeth? Form a coalition against the removal of tonsils? What a lot of petty posturing. Please go find a worthy cause, you entitled man-baby.