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Male Circumcision Might Reduce Risk of Female-to-Male HIV Transmission by About 60%, Study Says

October 26, 2005

Male circumcision might reduce the risk of men contracting HIV through sexual intercourse with women by about 60%, according to a study published in the November issue of PLoS Medicine, BBC News reports (BBC News, 10/25). French and South African researchers conducted a randomized, controlled clinical trial that enrolled 3,274 HIV-negative, uncircumcised men ages 18 to 24 living in South Africa. Half of the men were randomly assigned to be circumcised, and the other half served as a control group, remaining uncircumcised. The researchers continually tested the men for HIV infection over 21 months (Sample, Guardian, 10/25). During the trial, they recorded 20 HIV infections among the circumcised men and 49 infections among the uncircumcised men (Auvert et al., PLoS Medicine, November 2005). The study was conducted in the Orange Farm area near Johannesburg, South Africa, where male circumcision during adulthood is common, according to BBC News (BBC News, 10/25). Preliminary results from the study were presented in July at the 3rd International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/27). Although more than 40 studies since 1989 have found lower HIV rates among circumcised men, this study is the first to test circumcision as an "active intervention" for HIV prevention, Newsweek reports (Summers, Newsweek, 10/31).

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The November 2005 issue of PLoS Medicine also contains an editorial and two perspectives on the study, which are summarized below.

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