Studies Provide Sufficient Evidence To Recommend Male Circumcision As HIV Intervention, South African Researchers Say
Researchers from the South African Cochrane Center concluded Wednesday that sufficient evidence exists that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission among heterosexual men and the procedure should be considered an appropriate HIV intervention strategy, the SAPA/Mail and Guardian reports. Located at the South African Medical Research Council, the Cochrane Center is part of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of researchers that reviews the effects of interventions to inform health care decisions and policy. Although the center in the past did not recommend male circumcision as an HIV prevention tool because of insufficient evidence, researchers "changed their previous conclusions" after reviewing data from three recent African trials, Nandi Siegfried, co-director of the center, said.
According to Siegfried, circumcision helps prevent against HIV by removing foreskin cells, which contain receptors that enable the virus to enter the cells. She said, "Research on the effectiveness of male circumcision for preventing HIV in heterosexual men is conclusive," adding, "No further trials are required to establish that HIV infection rates are reduced in heterosexual men for at least the first two years after circumcision." Although Siegfried recommended that policymakers include male circumcision as an additional intervention in HIV prevention programs, she also noted that officials should consider cultural and environmental factors when designing circumcision programs.
According to the SAPA/Mail and Guardian, researchers will need to conduct further studies to determine whether male circumcision provides protection against HIV to female sexual partners or to men who have sex with men (SAPA/Mail and Guardian, 4/15).