In December of 2014, an anonymous working group under the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a draft of the first-ever federal recommendations regarding male circumcision. In accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics' circumcision policy from 2012 - but in contrast to the more recent 2015 policy from the Canadian Paediatric Society as well as prior policies (still in force) from medical associations in Europe and Australasia - the CDC suggested that the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks. In this article, we provide a brief scientific and conceptual analysis of the CDC's assessment of benefit versus risk, and argue that it deserves a closer look. Although we set aside the burgeoning bioethical debate surrounding the moral permissibility of performing non-therapeutic circumcisions on healthy minors, we argue that, from a scientific and medical perspective, current evidence suggests that such circumcision is not an appropriate public health measure for developed countries such as the United States.
Keywords: HIV prevention; Male circumcision; health policy; international public health.