Male Circumcision Does Not Offer Protection Against Some STIs, Study Finds
Although male circumcision has been found to offer men some protection against HIV, the procedure does not protect against other common sexually transmitted infections -- such as chlamydia, genital warts and genital herpes -- according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, Reuters Health reports.
For the study, Nigel Dickson of the University of Otago Dunedin School of Medicine and colleagues examined 499 men born in 1972 and 1973. About 40% of the participants had been circumcised in early childhood, Reuters Health reports. The study found that up to age 32, there were no statistically significant differences in rates of STIs other than HIV between the two groups, with 23.4% and 23.5% of the circumcised and uncircumcised men, respectively, reporting having had any type of STI. The most common STIs reported were genital warts, chlamydia and genital herpes, the study found.
According to the researchers, there is "compelling evidence" that male circumcision offers men a level of protection against HIV, but it is unclear whether the procedure lowers the risk of other types of STIs. The researchers noted that although another recent study found that circumcision decreased the rate of STIs among men up to age 25 by 50%, the study was done in a smaller group of participants with a lower rate of STIs than that reported in the current study. In addition, fewer men in that study had been circumcised, according to the researchers.
"Although the reason for the different findings in the two cohorts is unclear, when our findings are considered in the context of other recent population-based studies in developed countries, it appears unlikely that circumcision has a major protective effect against common [STIs] in these populations, although a smaller effect cannot be ruled out," the researchers concluded (Reuters Health, 3/19).
An abstract of the study is available online.