Circumcision and STIs / HIV

I am still constantly challenged by acquaintances with the notion that circumcision is important because, they claim it reduces the risks of contracting HIV or sexually transmitted infections. They persist, even after Dr. McAllister’s  An Elephant in the Hospital presentation explained the flaws in those studies. It was more than just self reporting that was the issue, there were a number of factors. Even still, the argument remains.

Somehow, I missed the article about the study from Puerto Rico.  It’s from last year, but i just stumbled on it. Maybe you’ve seen it already, but in case you haven’t, here’s a link to the abstract.

The objective of the authors was to compare the history of sexually transmitted infections and HIV diagnosis in relation to circumcision status in a sampling of men in the Caribbean region where there is a rapidly escalating HIV incidence.

Here’s what the authors found:

Almost 1/3 of the men they sampled were circumcised:

  • Compared to intact men, the circumcised men had accumulated more sexually transmitted infections in their lifetime (Circumcised men=73.4% and Intact men=65.7%).
  • The circumcised men had higher rates of previously being diagnosed with warts (Circumcised men=18.8% and Intact men=12.2%).
  • The circumcised men were more likely to have HIV (Circumcised men=43% and Intact men=33.9%)

Even if being intact doesn’t help fight off STIs and HIV, this study certainly suggests that circumcision doesn’t either.

It is highly irresponsible to pretend as though circumcision can reduce the incidence of HIV, especially when we have that longitudinal study from 2008 to fall back on that found almost no statistical difference in STIs either way. You know can reduce the incidence though? Condoms.

Condoms can reduce the incidence of HIV and STIs, not removing foreskin.

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