Policymakers Should Discuss How To Promote Circumcision if Proven an Effective HIV Prevention Method, Editorial Says
HIV/AIDS policymakers "should be discussing how to promote circumcision so they can be ready to act immediately" if studies confirm the findings of recent research showing that the practice can reduce the risk of HIV transmission, according to a New York Times editorial (New York Times, 10/15). The study, released in July, found that circumcision can reduce by about 65% the risk of men contracting HIV through sexual intercourse with women. The randomized, controlled clinical trial enrolled more than 3,000 HIV-negative, uncircumcised men ages 18 to 24 living in a South African township. Half of them were randomly assigned to be circumcised, and the other half served as a control group, remaining uncircumcised. After 21 months, 51 of the uncircumcised men had contracted HIV, compared with 18 of the circumcised men, and the procedure prevented six to seven out of 10 potential HIV infections (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/9). Researchers are conducting two similar studies in Kenya and Uganda, and the results are expected in about two years, the editorial says. "Circumcision is no easy sell," but it might "offer a way to curb the AIDS explosion in some of the most affected nations," the editorial says, adding, "If an AIDS vaccine were suddenly discovered that could prevent seven out of 10 new infections, the world would be rejoicing" (New York Times, 10/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.