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Male circumcision significantly reduces the risk of acquiring HIV in young African men, according to a study by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers.
The study enrolled 2,784 HIV-negative, uncircumcised men between age 18 and 24 in Kisumu, Kenya, where an estimated 26% of uncircumcised men contract HIV by age 25. Half of the study participants were then circumcised. Over the next two years, results showed that 47 of the 1,391 uncircumcised men contracted HIV, compared with 22 of the 1,393 circumcised men.
"Our study shows that circumcised men had 53% fewer HIV infections than uncircumcised men," said University of Illinois professor of epidemiology Robert Bailey in a statement. "We now have very concrete evidence that a relatively simple surgical procedure can have a very large impact on HIV."
Researchers add, however, that uncircumsized men may feel they are protected from becoming infected and therefore may be more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.
"Circumcision is by no means a natural condom," said Bailey. "We do know that some circumcised men become infected with HIV. But we did find that the circumcised men in our study did not increase their risk behaviors after circumcision. In fact, all men in the trial increased their condom use and reduced their number of sexual partners." (The Advocate)