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Commentary & Opinion

"Breakthrough" Finding That Circumcision Might Reduce Risk of HIV Should Be Confirmed, Pursued, Opinion Piece Says

November 2, 2005

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

The recent finding that male circumcision might reduce the risk of men contracting HIV through sexual intercourse with women by up to 70% "is the most important breakthrough in HIV prevention since the efficacy of the male condom was unequivocally demonstrated in laboratory and human studies," Thomas Coates, a professor of medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, writes in an opinion piece in South Africa's Star (Coates, Star, 10/30). 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, recording 20 HIV infections among the circumcised men and 49 infections among the uncircumcised men. The study was published in the November issue of PLoS Medicine (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/26). Male circumcision has advantages over condoms, which many men do not like to use and which can be expensive and inaccessible when they are needed, Coates writes, adding that, unlike condoms, circumcision is a "one-time irreversible event." However, the procedure "cannot be done by just anyone" and requires the patient to refrain from sexual activity until the wound has healed, he says. Two other ongoing studies to determine the effects of circumcision on the risk of HIV infection "need to be examined to ensure their findings are replicating, and not contradicting," the South African trial, according to Coates. If the findings "hold up," studies need to be launched immediately to determine how best to implement large-scale male circumcision "without negative effects," Coates says (Star, 10/30).

Back to other news for November 2, 2005


Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2005 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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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.
 
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