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Agency backs
continued studies on male circumcision

Agency backs
continued studies on male circumcision

A National Institutes of Health panel has voted to continue human studies under way in Kenya and Uganda that aim to determine if--and by how much--male circumcision may reduce the risks of HIV infection, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Some AIDS experts had worried the studies were unethical because they believe previous research shows that circumcision is highly effective in preventing HIV infection and that the uncircumcised men in the current studies should be offered the procedure. A similar study in South Africa was halted early last year so that all participants could be offered circumcision.

The South African study showed that the risk of men acquiring HIV through heterosexual intercourse was about 60% lower for men who were circumcised than those who were not. Although the studies included only heterosexual men, researchers believe gay and bisexual men who are circumcised may also be at a lower risk of HIV infection through insertive anal intercourse. Experts say uncircumcised men are at a greater risk of HIV infection because sexual fluids that contain HIV can remain trapped under the foreskin and placed in prolonged contact with cells in the foreskin that are susceptible to infection.

The Ugandan and Kenyan studies are slated to run at least one more year. (The Advocate)

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