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Randomized Controlled Trial Shows Circumcision Does Not Reduce Male-to-Female HIV Transmission

July 17, 2009

Male circumcision does not reduce the transmission of HIV from men to their female partners, according to a Lancet study conducted in Uganda, Bloomberg reports (Sargent, 7/16). The researchers recruited 922 uncircumcised HIV-positive men between the ages of 15 and 49 for the study, who were then divided into two groups - those who were "immediately circumcised" and those for whom the procedure was "delayed for two years" Reuters reports. Researchers also followed the wives and female sex partners of the men, who all were HIV-negative (Fox, 7/16). The analysis found that "18 percent of the female partners of the circumcised men became infected with the virus compared with 12 percent of the partners of men who hadn’t undergone the procedure," Bloomberg writes (7/16). Despite studies that "suggested circumcision ... can lower the rate of male-to-female virus transmission from HIV-positive men" the researchers concluded that "[c]ircumcision of HIV-infected men didn’t reduce HIV transmission to female partners over 24 months; longer-term effects could not be assessed" (Wawer et al., Lancet, July 2009).

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