Benefits of male circumcision in HIV prevention

A couple posts back I linked to two editorials about the use of male circumcision as a means of HIV prevention.  Lo and behold, this morning I find two articles on the same issue on

1.  This very informative 3-page article from The Times of Zambia reflects the enthusiasm attracted by this strategy.  Many researchers and health workers believe that widespread male circumcision has the potential to put a serious dent in the number of new HIV cases among men (and, indirectly, women) in sub-Saharan Africa.  A few excerpts from the article:

Although male circumcision and reduction of multiple sexual partnerships are currently getting less attention and resources, researchers say they are two interventions that could have a greater impact on minimising the further spread of the HIV.

Scientists say circumcision reduces men’s chances of contracting HIV by up to 60 per cent, which is regarded as a major breakthrough in the fight against AIDS. Now, the question is how to put that fact to work to combat AIDS across Africa.  […]

In recent years, the fight against the AIDS has focused on the provision of life saving drugs. The circumcision data gives prevention, rather than treatment, renewed emphasis.

2.  This shorter article from the Uganadan paper The Monitor cites studies that may help alleviate fears that circumcised men will engage in riskier sexual practices (effectively cancelling the preventative benefit of circumcision itself).

According to their [researchers in Kenya] findings published this month in the journal PLoS one, “We found no evidence to suggest that circumcised men engaged in increased risk behavior after the procedure,” the findings read in part. “To the contrary, both circumcised and uncircumcised men significantly reduced their HIV risk behavior from baseline to the 6 and 12 month follow-up visits.”


~ by h.e.g. on June 30, 2008.

4 Responses to “Benefits of male circumcision in HIV prevention”

  1. Actually, a lot of medical trials looking at circumcision as a preventative measure for HIV are stopped early because, since the results are so positive, it’s actually considered unethical to continue and not offer circumcision to the control group. A really great, cost-effective prevention tool.

  2. Yup, I believe one of the articles mentions that. The results really are impressive, especially given the complexity of prevention efforts and the ongoing debate that tends to swirl around them.

    Thanks for pointing this out, Katy!

  3. Found an article that might be of interest. According to a Ugandan paper, “The chairman of [Uganda’s] parliamentary HIV/AIDS committee has appealed to men to embrace circumcision to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.”

    The MP also noted “that attempts to make circumcision compulsory for men had failed because of the misconception that it was a practice only for Muslims.”

  4. Very good, i first learnt of male circumcission during my clinical practice last semester. It was interesting that i have decided to write about it in GUILD magazine in which am the chief editor so i needed more information to share with the readers.infact AIDS CAN BE driven out of the world. thanks for your efforts.

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