Circumcision saved my life

I remember reading the earliest news stories about AIDS, a mysterious new blood-borne disease, and freezing with the intuitive knowledge that whatever was borne through the blood could be borne into Peter’s blood—and, by accident, perhaps mine, too. Since we were trying to get me pregnant, we had stopped using any birth control. How innocent it seems in retrospect that even when I suffered our second lost pregnancy in 1984, Peter had gamely whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry. I’ll knock you up again.”

But we had no chance. Soon thereafter, it was confirmed that the very blood products that had helped save and heal and improve the lives of so many hemophiliacs also had the power to infect them with AIDS. As for sex—as they say in Brooklyn, fuggedaboutit. In politer terms, Peter’s hematologists advised us to cease and desist getting pregnant again. Our mutual, sad assumption in the months that ensued: Not only had our love not produced a baby, but it may well have doomed me, too.

And then our very own HIV test results—his and hers—arrived. Peter was positive. I was negative. How had it happened that I never became HIV-positive myself?

It wasn’t until recently that we knew: He was circumcised. Actually, I should say, now I know. Peter died in 1999.