Circumcision Effective HIV Prevention Method Because it Permanently Reduces Transmission Risk, Opinion Piece Says
Circumcision "of boys may be saving their lives," as research has shown that the practice reduces the risk of contracting HIV, William Saletan, science and technology reporter for Slate online magazine, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. Although some anti-circumcision advocates argue "against circumcising babies to prevent HIV [because] they're too young to consent," infants receive vaccinations and other health services that they do not consent to, Saletan writes, adding that men are "lining up" at clinics across southern Africa, "pleading to be circumcised." Although condoms and abstinence require "diligence" to be effective HIV prevention methods, circumcision "works more reliably for the same reason that foreskin enthusiasts hate it: It lasts forever," Saletan writes, adding, "Drug researchers would kill for an HIV vaccine half as effective as circumcision" (Saletan, Washington Post, 8/20). According to a study published in the November 2005 issue of PLoS Medicine, male circumcision might reduce the risk of men contracting HIV through sexual intercourse with women by about 60%. 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 the men were randomly assigned to be circumcised, and the other half served as a control group, remaining uncircumcised. For every 10 uncircumcised men who contracted HIV, about three circumcised men contracted the virus. The study was halted early when researchers determined that circumcision significantly reduced HIV transmission and that it was unethical to proceed without offering the option to all men in the study (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.