A new study adds
more evidence to support the theory that circumcision
helps protect against HIV infections, this time suggesting
that the female sex partners of men who are
circumcised are at a lower risk of infection. Previous
studies have suggested that men who are circumcised
are significantly less likely to be infected with HIV than
their uncircumcised peers.
presented Wednesday in Denver at the 13th Conference on
Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, followed hundreds
of Ugandan couples, in which all of the men were
HIV-positive and the women initially were all
HIV-negative. A total of 299 women whose husbands were
uncircumcised contracted the virus through sexual contact,
compared with just 44 women with circumcised partners
who became infected. The researchers say circumcision
cut the transmission rate to female sex partners by
say the reduced risk may have resulted because certain
cells in the foreskin of the penis are more likely to harbor
high levels of HIV than other cells in the body; the
concentration of virus in the foreskin can be up to
nine times higher than in cells elsewhere in the body.
has suggested that men who are circumcised are at a
lower risk of HIV infection because certain cells in the
foreskin are particularly susceptible to HIV
infection. In uncircumcised men, sexual fluids that
can contain HIV can become trapped under the foreskin and
placed in prolonged contact with these vulnerable cells.
Studies have shown circumcision can reduce the chance
of heterosexual men becoming infected with HIV by 60%.
circumcision studies to date have focused on heterosexual
men and their female sex partners, researchers believe
circumcised gay men also are at a lower risk of HIV
infection than their uncircumcised peers.