Circumcision may not affect HIV rates in gay men

PinkNews Staff Writer March 10, 2010
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Although research has found that circumcision may help cut HIV infections, a new study suggests it may not have much effect on gay men.

Studies in Africa suggest circumcised men are up to 60 per cent less likely than their uncircumcised counterparts to contract HIV.

It is thought that the foreskin is particularly susceptible to the HIV virus.

However, gay and bisexual men are more at risk from the disease in western countries and a new study suggests that being circumcised has little effect on infection rates.

The study was carried out by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reuters reports.

They looked at HIV infection rates among nearly 4,900 men in the US, Canada and the Netherlands who were involved with a trial of an HIV vaccine.

Over three years, no difference was found in infection rates for circumcised and uncircumcised men.
The researchers suggested that this could be due to the fact that circumcision would not affect HIV risk from receptive anal sex.

In the sample, 86 per cent of the men had been circumcised and seven per cent became HIV-positive.

Of those who had not been circumcised, 43 men became HIV-positive.

After taking into account other factors such as drug use and having unprotected sex, circumcision was found to have no effect on whether men contracted the virus.

A similar study published in 2008 also found little evidence that circumcised gay and bisexual men have less chance of catching HIV.

The US Centres for Disease Control conducted a meta-analysis of data from 15 studies on more than 53,000 men who have sex with men.

Fifty-two per cent of them were circumcised.

While there were fewer HIV-positive men in the circumcised group, the rate was not statistically significant.

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