Argument: Circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection

Issue Report: Infant male circumcision


Sabin Russell, Chronicle Medical Writer. “Male circumcision shows promise as defense against HIV transmission”. San Francisco Chronicle. 14 Dec. 2006 – Two major studies of male circumcision in Africa have found that the simple surgical procedure reduces the risk of HIV infection by half — a hugely important result that is likely to prompt many African nations hard hit by AIDS to promote it as a means to control the epidemic.

The separate studies in Kenya and Uganda were financed by the National Institutes of Health and compared HIV infection rates between groups of circumcised and uncircumcised men and teenage boys.

On Tuesday, an NIH safety panel examined interim results and found that the uncircumcised men in both studies were becoming infected at twice the rate of the men who had the procedure. The panel concluded it would be unethical to allow the experiments to continue until mid-2007 as planned without offering the surgery to the uncircumcised group.

The results are consistent with a similar clinical trial halted in South Africa last year after French researchers found that circumcision — the surgical removal of foreskin from the penis — offered a 60 percent protection rate.

“These results demonstrate that adult male circumcision, when performed by a trained medical provider, is both safe and effective at reducing the risk of HIV infection, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a telephone news conference.

Dr David Hawker. “The Benefits of Male Circumcision”. March 2004 – Protection against HIV and AIDS. Another British Medical Journal article in May 2000 suggested that circumcised men are 8 times less likely to contract the HIV virus. (It is very important here to say that the risk is still far too high and that condoms and safe sex must be used – this applies also to preventing cancer of the cervix in women who have several partners.)

A BBC television programme in November 2000 showed two Ugandan tribes across the valley from one another. One practised circumcision and had very little AIDS, whereas, it was common in the other tribe, who then also started circumcising. This programme showed how the infection thrived in the lining of the foreskin, making it much easier to pass on.

The World Health Organization (WHO; 2007), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS; 2007), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2008) state that evidence indicates male circumcision significantly reduces the risk of HIV acquisition by men during penile-vaginal sex, but also state that circumcision only provides partial protection and should not replace other interventions to prevent transmission of HIV.[12][13]

Dr. Brian Morris, Professor of Molecular Medical Sciences. “Here are the Main Benefits of Circumcision”. Opposing Views – Reduces by approximately 3-fold the risk of getting HIV (AIDS), during sex with an infected woman. That is why circumcision has now been endorsed by WHO and UNAIDS to reduce the AIDS epidemic in high prevalence countries. HIV enters via the vulnerable inner lining of the foreskin of a healthy penis, but can also infect via sores anywhere on the penis (caused for example by genital herpes). In countries that have a low prevalence of HIV the risk of a heterosexual man being infected with HIV sexually is generally low. His risk, especially if uncircumcised, will be much greater if he engages in unsafe sex with people of countries in which HIV abounds.