Male Circumcision Reduces HIV Risk

A small cut can reduce HIV infection
in men; © Hemera

Based on the independent Data Safety and Monitoring Board´s review, the National Institutes of Health halted the trial and recommended that all men enrolled in the study who remain uncircumcised be offered circumcision. "Circumcision is now a proven, effective prevention strategy to reduce HIV infections in men," said Robert Bailey, professor of epidemiology in the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health and principal investigator of the study.

The clinical trial enrolled 2,784 HIV negative, uncircumcised men between 18 and 24 years old in Kisumu, Kenya. Half the men were randomly assigned to circumcision, half remained uncircumcised. All men enrolled in the study received free HIV testing and counselling, medical care, tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, condoms and behavioural risk counselling for 24 months.

Study results show that 22 of the 1,393 circumcised men in the study contracted HIV, compared to 47 of the 1,391 uncircumcised men. In other words, circumcised men had 53 percent fewer HIV infections than uncircumcised men. "With these findings, the evidence is now available for donor and normative agencies, like WHO and UNAIDS, to actively promote circumcision in a safe context and along with other HIV prevention strategies," Bailey said.

"Circumcision cannot be a stand-alone intervention. It has to be integrated with all the other things that we do to prevent new HIV infections, such as treating sexual transmitted diseases and providing condoms and behavioural counselling," Bailey said. Opponents of circumcision have speculated that circumcised men may feel they are not at risk of contracting HIV and may be more likely to engage in risky behaviour. The Kenya study suggests that circumcision did not increase risky behaviour among circumcised or uncircumcised men, according to Bailey.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Illinois at Chicago