Findings reported at the Australasian Sexual Health Conference 2008 shed new light on male circumcision’s role in preventing HIV infection.
“We have shown for the first time that [men who have sex with men] who predominantly take on the insertive role in sex are less likely to contract HIV if they’ve been circumcised,” said Dr. David Templeton from the National Center for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research in Sydney. He went on to note, however, “Most HIV infections are contracted in the receptive role, so what we’re talking about is a risk reduction for a small group of men who didn’t have a huge risk in the first place.”
In the study, University of New South Wales researchers recruited 1,400 HIV-negative men, two-thirds of whom were circumcised. During the four-year study, 53 men acquired HIV. There was no evidence that circumcision reduced the HIV risk among gay men in general. But in looking at the men who predominantly took the insertive role in intercourse, there was an 85 percent reduction in the risk of HIV infection if they were circumcised. Only seven of the 53 HIV infections occurred among insertive partners; the study’s model indicated that five of these infections could have been avoided if the men had been circumcised.
Templeton was quick to note, however, “That’s only 9 percent of all HIV infections overall that can be attributed to being uncircumcised, not enough to advocate throwing out condoms or advocating widespread circumcision.”
Indeed, the study’s model projected that circumcising all Australian gay men would prevent 37 infections a year in the first decade and 57 per year by 2030, at a cost of $196 million (US $153 million) in the first two years.
Date of Publication
Conferences Gay Men HIV/AIDS Prevention Studies or Surveys Surgery
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