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Commentary & Opinion
Male Circumcision Should Be "Central Strategy" to Fighting HIV/AIDS, Editorial Says

December 18, 2006

After two NIH studies last week "removed any doubt" that male circumcision helps protect men from HIV infection, the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief "should make [male] circumcision a central strategy as soon as possible," a Boston Globe editorial says (Boston Globe, 12/17). The studies, which took place in Kenya and Uganda, found that routine male circumcision could reduce a man's HIV infection risk through heterosexual sex by about 50%. The Uganda study found 43 cases of HIV among the uncircumcised men, compared with 22 among the circumcised men -- a 48% reduction of HIV transmission. The Kenya study found 47 cases of HIV among uncircumcised men, compared with 22 among the circumcised men -- a 53% reduction. The results of the studies were so overwhelming that NIH stopped the trials early and offered circumcision to all participants. The researchers also found no evidence that the circumcised men in the studies adopted higher-risk sexual behaviors, including sex with multiple partners and unprotected sex (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/14). "The ABCs of AIDS prevention -- [a]bstinence, [b]eing faithful to your partner and using [c]ondoms -- now have a second C: circumcision for males," the editorial says. It concludes, "A procedure such as circumcision, which could be administered by trained non-physicians for relatively low cost and provide close to that level of protection, would save millions of lives" (Boston Globe, 12/17).

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