Circumcision appears Protective against HIV-1 Infection

Posted by Mike Kremer on Jan 02, 2004 at 18:17

10 October 2002(Reuters Health [Karla Gale])

The risk of being infected with HIV-1 is 8 times higher among uncircumcised men, compared with their circumcised counterparts, according to a "late breaker" presentation at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in San Diego.
Dr. Steven J. Reynolds, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues compared subsequent HIV-1 infection rates among 2298 men, whose initial test results between 1993 and 2000 were negative.

Among the 191 men who were circumcised, the incidence of infection was 0.7%; among the 2107 individuals not circumcised, 5.5% became infected. The incidence of other sexually transmitted diseases was slightly higher among those not circumcised, but the difference was not statistically significant.

Examination of the data revealed that demographics, sexual risk behaviors, and condom use were similar between groups. Thus, it appears that differences in behavior do not explain the protective effect of foreskin removal.
As the differences in the protective effect of circumcision demonstrated in this study are striking
One must ask whether the cause might be differences and subtle (or not-so-subtle) differences in social behavior, or whether a protective mechanism could operate in the circumcised, if any.
It is hoped that this question will be answered in a future published study.

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