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Does Circumcision Reduce HIV Infections In Gay Men?

This week the medical blog world has been buzzing with the release of an article connecting a decline in circumcision with increased risk of HIV. Medical news site News-Medical.net reported of the release of new medical research showing not circumcising was leading to increased disease in the USA including a rise in HIV and other sexual infections.

In a report to be published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine online Aug. 20, the Johns Hopkins experts say the added expense stems from new cases and higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and related cancers among uncircumcised men and their female partners. They say the study is believed to be the first cost analysis to account for increased rates of multiple infectious diseases associated with lower rates of male circumcision, including HIV/AIDS, herpes and genital warts, as well as cervical and penile cancers.

The article goes on to say that by not circumcising American boys, the rate of HIV in the USA could be expected to rise by 12%. This is contrary to previous data that clearly showed that within western countries circumcision was not considered a factor in HIV transmission rates.

I was interested as this paper appears to tie in a number of diseases such as penile warts, cervical cancer, urinary tract infections and herpes as all likely to rise with decreased male circumcision rates.

Out of interest I obtained a copy of the study to review where they were obtaining their data.

By far the most striking assumption make by the researchers @ John Hopkins was that people in Africa became infected with HIV the same way as people in the USA.

It is clearly understood that HIV in Africa is a heterosexual disease where as HIV in the western world is by far mostly in the gay community.  The three studies used to tie the African research to the USA were only looking at heterosexual infection, thus not the actual reality of HIV in the USA. The studies merely  viewed a very small subset of people living with HIV in the USA.

The study also talks about increased rates of penile warts and cervical cancer as a result of uncircumcised men. Interestingly the majority of warts develop on the head and shaft of the penis as well as the scrotum. Research into the wart virus and being uncircumcised shows that the data is inflated and the risk of warts is pretty much the same, foreskin or not.

So guys, currently the media is going crazy suggesting that circumcision is the cure all for preventing sexually transmitted infections, penile warts and cancer and even HIV. It’s important to be aware that this news has been driven by one single study and as I hope I have helped explain this study is flawed and not applicable to people in the western world.

If you are uncircumcised and are considering circumcision based on this study I strongly suggest you sit down and talk with your doctor. Circumcision is a significant operation with the pros and cons to be thoroughly understood.

Sadly this data is interesting, however not at all relevant to gay men living in the western world, particularly the USA.

Yours in good health.

Dr George