[Circumcision: history, religion and law].
The aim of this article is to describe the circumcision procedure during history, its therapeutic and preventive goals, with focus on bioethical, economic and law issues. The origins of this practice are lost in antiquity. It was performed since 3000 BC by the Egyptians for hygienic and religious reasons. Moreover, male circumcision is a religious commandment in Judaism and Islam, and it is customary in some Oriental Orthodox and other Christian churches of Africa. Nowadays, circumcision is performed as a routine procedure by the Jews and the Muslims for religious reasons. The world prevalence of men with circumcision is 12.5-33%, especially in USA, Canada, Islamic people and Africa; in Europe the prevalence rate is low (in Great Britain it is 1.5%). Currently, male circumcision is being highly debated because of ethical, law and scientific issues and the different roles of this procedure: therapeutic, prophylactic (but there is no universal consensus) and ritualistic role. Nowadays, in Italy there is a strong debate about the consensus for this practice and its indications. The Italian law does not allow performing ritualistic circumcision, as a free of charge procedure in public hospitals, at the government's expenses, because the Italian law must protect different religious cultures, in name of the laity of the State. Thus, national bioethical committee (CNB) has established that ritualistic circumcision may only be performed on a paying basis in public hospitals. As a protective practice, circumcision has decreased in the entire world because of the improvement of hygienical conditions and, above all, the lack of unanimous consent on the real usefulness of protective circumcision, even if several studies have recently demonstrated the protecting role of male circumcision against HIV infection.