Reduced Risk of HIV Among Circumcised Men in India Related to Biology, Not Behavior, Study Says
March 26, 2004
Men in India who are circumcised are less likely to be HIV-positive than men who are not circumcised because of biological, not behavioral differences, according to a study published in the March 27 issue of the Lancet, Reuters reports (Reuters, 3/25). Some researchers have suggested that circumcised men are less likely to be HIV-positive because they engage in fewer risk behaviors because of their religious beliefs or other cultural factors. Other researchers have suggested that circumcised men have a reduced risk of other sexually transmitted diseases associated with genital ulceration or mucosal inflammation, which can increase the risk of HIV infection, according to the study (Bollinger et al., Lancet, 3/27). Robert Bollinger and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins University Medical School and the National AIDS Research Institute in Pune, India, examined 2,298 HIV-negative men who attended a STD clinic in India. The researchers assessed most of the men a total of four times for about a year and found that uncircumcised men were more than six times as likely to acquire HIV than circumcised men. However, the researchers did not find a similar protective effect against other STDs, including herpes simplex 2, syphilis or gonorrhea (Lancet release, 3/26). Circumcision only had a protective effect against HIV (Lichtarowicz, BBC News, 3/26). "These epidemiological data lend support to the hypothesis that male circumcision protects against HIV-1 infection primarily due to removal of the foreskin, which contains a high density of HIV-1-specific cellular targets, including CD4+ T-lymphocytes and Langerhans cells," the researchers said (Lancet, 3/27).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.