The United States has one of the highest rates of circumcision in the world.  At present, roughly 80 percent of American men are circumcised, but that number may be on the decline.

Last month, a federal researcher presented data at the International AIDS Conference suggesting a drastic decline in circumcision, to just 32.5 percent in 2009 from 56 percent in 2006. The data was based on calculations by SDI Health, a company in Plymouth Meeting, Penn., which analyzes health care data.  

To be clear, the numbers used as the basis for this researcher's data were gathered as part of a study designed to measure the rate of complications from the procedure — not the actual rate of circumcision. So they do not include procedures done outside hospitals (like most Jewish ritual circumcisions) or those not reimbursed by insurance.

Still, critics of circumcision found the declining numbers promising. In an interview with the New York Times, Elizabeth-Ann Chandler, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reiterated that the agency used the SDI figures to calculate the rate of complications, not of circumcisions.

But she did not dispute the waning popularity of circumcision. “What we can tell you is that male infant circumcision rates have declined somewhat in this decade,” she stated.

Are circumcisions on the decline?
New data suggests a steep decline in the controversial procedure.