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Circumcision Does Not Cut Female Partners' HIV Risk

Condoms remain essential to protect female partners of circumcised HIV-positive men

FRIDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Circumcision of HIV-infected men does not confer any additional protection on their female sexual partners, and condoms remain essential for prevention of HIV transmission, according to a study published in the July 18 issue of The Lancet.

Maria J. Wawer, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., and colleagues conducted a study of 922 HIV-positive, uncircumcised men aged 15 to 49 years in a district of Uganda. The men were asymptomatic and had CD-4 cell counts of 350 per ┬ÁL or more, and 474 were randomized to undergo immediate circumcisions, while 448 were to undergo the procedure 24 months later.

There were 163 HIV-negative female partners of the men, 93 in the intervention group and 70 in the control group, and they were to have been monitored at six, 12 and 24 months, but the trial was stopped early when follow-up revealed that 17 (18 percent) of the women in the intervention group and eight (12 percent) in the control group had acquired HIV, the investigators report. Cumulative probability of HIV infection at 24 months was higher in the intervention group (21.7 percent) than the control group (13.4 percent).

"Circumcision of HIV-infected men did not reduce HIV transmission to female partners over 24 months; longer-term effects could not be assessed," the authors write. "Condom use after male circumcision is essential for HIV prevention."

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