Circumcision Lowers HIV Risk

Published Online: Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Whereas circumcision may not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), it may cut HIV risk. A study, the results of which were reported recently in The Lancet, found that circumcised men may be up to 6 times less likely to be infected by HIV-1, compared with uncircumcised men. The researchers concluded that this difference in risk may be because the foreskin on uncircumcised males is enriched with cells that are targets for HIV-1.

For the study, American and Indian researchers evaluated 2298 men coming to STI clinics in India. At the beginning of the study, all of the participants were HIV-negative. A majority of the participants were assessed 3 times over the course of the year after their initial assessment.

"These data confirm previous findings that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV-1 acquisition," said researcher Robert C. Bollinger, MD. "This analysis expands on earlier studies by including laboratory-defined incident STIs as outcomes in the analysis, as well as by including risk behavior to control for other potential differences between circumcised and uncircumcised men."

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