Male Circumcision Lowers HIV Rate: Community Programs Changing Public Opinion of Procedure
Seppa, Nathan, Science News
An increase in male circumcision in a South African community coincides with lower overall HIV rates among adult men, a new study finds. Meanwhile, a report from Kenya bolsters earlier findings that circumcised young men are less than half as likely as their uncircumcised peers to acquire HIV. Both reports were presented July 24.
Researchers in Orange Farm, South Africa, devised a program in 2008 that provided free circumcision for men, plus condoms and counseling. Within three years, the adult male circumcision rate jumped from 17 percent to 54 percent, said Bertran Auvert, a physician at the University of Versailles in France who works on the project.
Surveys of several thousand men in Orange Farm in 2008 and 2011 found that the prevalence of HIV dropped from 15.4 to 12.3 percent during that time. Auvert calculated that there were 1,040 HIV infections avoided.
The decrease in HIV prevalence, he said, should lead to a decrease in HIV rates for the men's female partners. "It's the beginning of the story, so we'll need some time," he said.
An earlier trial in Orange Farm was among the first to show that male circumcision can reduce HIV infection risk. A new analysis of data from a similar trial in Kisumu, Kenya, suggests the protection is long-lasting. Epidemiologist Robert Bailey of the University of Illinois at Chicago reported that 66 months after circumcision, men who underwent the operation were still less than half as likely to become infected with HIV as men who didn't undergo it. …