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Male Circumcision Confers Partial Protection Against HIV

Expert opinions vary on HIV prevention, circumcision and safe sex

FRIDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Male circumcision reduces HIV incidence, but protects only partly against the virus and cannot replace safe sex, according to a report published in the July issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Yoram Vardi, M.D., of Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, and colleagues offered various opinions about HIV prevention and circumcision.

Three clinical studies in Africa reported lower HIV rates in circumcised men. But Hossein Sadeghi-Nejad, M.D., of UMDNJ New Jersey Medical School in Hackensack, notes that cultural and practical barriers include the need to practice circumcision under sterile conditions.

Shimon Pollack, M.D., of Rambam Medical Center, echoes the World Health Organization's view that safe sex must be a priority. Oseremen Aisuodionoe-Shadrach, of Asokoro Hospital, in Garki-Abuja, Nigeria, supports circumcision, preferably in infants. Ira Sharlip, M.D., of the University of California San Francisco, asks who would practice and receive circumcision were it widespread.

"While three clinical trials in Africa were halted after it became evident that circumcision was beneficial in protecting against HIV, further information on the health risks and benefits of male circumcision is needed," the authors write. "Ethical decisions need to be made and medical recommendations developed before circumcision can be considered for HIV prevention."

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