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Circumcision could cut HIV transmissions by 60%

Circumcision could cut HIV transmissions by 60%

A study by researchers in France and South Africa, covered in the current issue of Newsweek magazine, suggests that circumcising heterosexual men in developing countries could cut the odds of their acquiring HIV through unprotected sex by more than 60%. The study included 3,274 HIV-negative uncircumcised men in South Africa, half of whom were circumcised for the study. Over the course of 21 months, 20 HIV infections were reported among the circumcised men, compared with 49 among the men who were not circumcised.

Although more than 40 previous studies have suggested that circumcision reduces HIV infection chances, this is the first to test the procedure among adults specifically as an HIV prevention technique, Newsweek reports.

Researchers say HIV infection rates are higher among uncircumcised men because sexual fluids, which can contain HIV, can get trapped beneath the foreskin and placed into prolonged contact with cells in the penis particularly susceptible to infection. Removing the foreskin helps minimize exposure to sexual fluids. Although there have been no scientific studies to determine if circumcision lowers HIV infection risks among sexually active gay men who are the insertive partner--or "top"--during anal sex, some researchers believe it does offer some protection. (

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