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Medical News

Circumcision Study Supports HIV Theory

April 17, 2013

Researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Flagstaff, Ariz., report that a study conducted in Uganda indicates that removal of the foreskin deprives anaerobic bacteria of a place to thrive and gives the immune system a better opportunity to fight off the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The study may explain why circumcision cuts HIV risk by 50 to 60 percent. Previous theories attributed increased HIV risk for uncircumcised men to the potential for tears of the foreskin or the increased amount of surface area.

Study leader Dr. Cindy Liu compared removal of the foreskin to clear-cutting a forest, which changes the community of animals living there. Similarly, circumcision deprives anaerobic bacteria of the opportunity to thrive in the coronal sulcus, the groove behind the head of the penis. Liu stated that bacteria -- especially anaerobic bacteria -- cause inflammation that triggers the immune system to respond with T4 cells, which are necessary for HIV to survive and replicate. Populations of bacteria in an uncircumcised man attract T4 cells that give HIV an entry point. Without bacteria to mobilize HIV-susceptible T4 cells, other immune cells can destroy the virus.

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See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Cindy (United States) Thu., Apr. 18, 2013 at 11:18 am UTC
Babies & children don't have sex! So don't think for a second this justifies mutilating children against their will!

And why does America have far higher HIV infection than Europe, Canada or Australia? And despite over a billion dollars spent by the US tax payers in Africa promoting circumcision, HIV rates are rising.

A condom is far better at preventing HIV, condoms should be promoted to stop HIV, not circumcision.

Even if it does reduce HIV infection that should be considered by an adult as to whether or not he himself wants a circumcision. I have no problem with their being potential pros to circumcision, but it should not be forced onto non-consensual people EVER.
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Comment by: James (SLC UT) Wed., Apr. 17, 2013 at 7:45 pm UTC
When junk science meets junk journalism, children are put at risk.

Only 6% of Americans rate the news media as very trustworthy, according to Rasmussen Reports. And no wonder with stories like this.

Circumcision does not confer immunity to any virus. Real world results do not show that circumcision has any preventive effect against HIV. Circumcision never prevented AIDS in the USA or anywhere else.

On the other hand, American boys die from circumcision every year. Removing the foreskin destroys most of a male’s erogenous sensitivity. Unsurprisingly, circumcised men are much more likely to suffer erectile dysfunction than their intact peers.

Oddly enough, intact nations like Norway and the Netherlands come out on top when rated for happiness, male health, and male longevity. That would be a story Time’s readers could benefit from.

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