Financial Times Examines Circumcision as ‘Protection’ Against Transmission of HIV
The Financial Times on Friday examined the use of circumcision -- the world's most commonly performed surgical operation but also its most "controversial" -- as a possible method of "protection" against HIV infection. Many scientists say that circumcision can provide protection from HIV for heterosexual men because the inner surface of the foreskin has a large concentration of a type of white blood cell that HIV might use to enter the body, according to the Times. The association between circumcision and a decreased risk of contracting HIV has been "suggested for some time," the Times reports. HIV prevalence rates are relatively low in West and Central Africa -- where there are large Muslim populations that practice circumcision -- but "extremely high" in Southern Africa, where circumcision is less commonly performed. In addition, the results of a recently published study showed that uncircumcised men attending a clinic in India were eight times as likely to be HIV-positive as circumcised men who attended the same clinic. However, theories concerning circumcision and HIV transmission are "far from settled," especially because previous studies concerning circumcision "ignored" sexual behavior and culture, the Times reports (Dyer, Financial Times, 9/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.