Researchers Examine Effect of Male Circumcision on Female Partners
February 4, 2008
Researchers on Sunday at the 15th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston discussed a study that examined the effect of male circumcision on female partners, the New York Times reports. Although the researchers said that the study's findings are not statistically significant, they did say that male circumcision does not provide protection from HIV to female partners and that the procedure could increase the risk of HIV transmission if HIV-positive men have sex before the circumcision is healed.
Higher HIV incidence was recorded among couples who resumed sex more than five days earlier than when a health worker confirmed that circumcision wounds had healed completely, compared with couples who resumed sex within five days of confirmed wound healing, according to the Times.
Rates of condom use, bacterial vaginal infections, vaginal discharge, painful urination and urinary tract infections were the same among women in both groups, according to the study (Altman, New York Times, 2/4).
A similar study conducted by the researchers in Uganda found a 25% lower rate of genital herpes among women whose male partners were HIV-negative when circumcised. The study also found a 50% reduction in the sexually transmitted infection trichomoniasis and a 20% reduction in bacterial vaginosis among women whose partners were HIV-negative when undergoing the procedure (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/4).
According to the researchers, the study's findings underscore the need for education among men who are circumcised and their female partners. Wawer said that because the findings are not statistically significant, more research is needed to determine the benefits of male circumcision among men and their partners. In addition, further research is needed to determine ways to reduce the risks associated with resuming sex before the circumcision is healed, Wawer said (New York Times, 2/4).
Wawer added that although the study did not find a reduced risk of HIV among women whose HIV-positive partners were circumcised, male circumcision likely still will benefit women because fewer men within a population will be HIV-positive, and thus less likely to transmit the virus. "We are sure there will be a population benefit" associated with male circumcision, Wawer said (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/4).
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.