Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Circumcision does NOT help in the spread of HIV among gay men: study

Circumcision, which has helped prevent AIDS among heterosexual men in Africa, doesn't help protect gay men from the virus, according to the largest U.S. study to look at the question. The research, presented at a conference Tuesday, is expected to influence the U.S. government's first guidance on the procedure.

CBC reports:
Circumcision "is not considered beneficial" in stopping the spread of HIV through gay sex, said Dr. Peter Kilmarx, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the CDC is still considering recommending it for other groups, including baby boys and high-risk heterosexual men. UNAIDS and other international health organizations promote circumcision, the cutting away of the foreskin, as an important strategy for reducing the spread of the AIDS virus. There hasn't been the same kind of push for circumcision in the United States. For one thing, nearly 80 per cent of American men are already circumcised — a much higher proportion than most other countries. Worldwide, the male circumcision rate is estimated at about 30 per cent.

Previous research has suggested circumcision doesn't make a difference when anal sex is involved. The latest study, by CDC researchers, looked at nearly 4,900 men who had anal sex with an HIV-infected partner and found the infection rate, about 3.5 per cent, was approximately the same whether the men were circumcised or not.

Also, while HIV spreads primarily through heterosexual sex in Africa and some other parts of the world, in the United States it has mainly infected gay men. Only about four per cent of U.S. men are gay, according to preliminary CDC estimates released at the conference this week. But they account for more than half of the new HIV infections each year. READ MORE