Male Circumcision Might Reduce Risk of Male-to-Female HIV Transmission, Study Says
Male circumcision might reduce the risk of HIV transmission from HIV-positive men to their female partners, according to a study presented Wednesday at the 13th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Denver, Reuters reports. Ronald Gray of Johns Hopkins University and colleagues examined the medical records of more than 300 couples in which the man infected the woman. The study demonstrates that male circumcision reduces the rate of HIV transmission to the women by 30%, with 299 women contracting HIV from uncircumcised partners and 44 women contracting HIV from circumcised partners (Fox, Reuters, 2/8). The couples came from a Rakai, Uganda, study population of 12,000 people being monitored to track HIV transmission (JHU release, 2/9). The researchers said the reduced risk of transmission might be related to the structure of the foreskin, which can contain a concentration of the virus that is nine times the amount found in the outer layers of the penis (Towie, Nature.com, 2/8). Male circumcision also was found to reduce the rate of women's infection with trichomonas and bacterial vaginosis, the study says. The findings need to be confirmed by other trials before any recommendations can be made, Thomas Quinn, a professor of infectious diseases at JHU who presented the study at the conference, said. Researchers also presented further evidence at the conference that male circumcision reduces female-to-male HIV transmission (Reuters, 2/8). Male circumcision previously has been shown to protect men from HIV. According to a study published in the November 2005 issue of PLoS Medicine, male circumcision might reduce the risk of female-to-male transmission by about 60% (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/26/05).
A presentation of the study finding a reduced female-to-male risk of HIV transmission for circumcised men presented at the 3rd International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment is available on kaisernetwork.org http://www.kaisernetwork.org/health_cast/hcast_index.cfm?display=detail&hc=1460#transmission.
A press conference discussing the findings is also available