AIDS Forum: Circumcision A Major Means of Curbing HIV Infections
Three new studies support earlier conclusions that circumcision is a valuable tool in combating the spread of HIV, attendees at a conference in Rome heard, according to a July 20 AFP report.
In South Africa, a circumcision initiative resulted in a 76 percent drop in new HIV infections. This spared untold thousands of men and women; according to researchers, without the circumcision program, the infection rate would have been 58 percent higher.
The AIDS pandemic has ravaged parts of Africa. The king of one tiny nation, Swaziland, recently took the drastic step of appealing to all male subjects to undergo the medical procedure, which is thought to offer protection against the disease by removing tissue that is especially vulnerable to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
"This study is a fantastic result for a simple intervention which costs 40 euros (56 dollars), takes 20 minutes, and has to be done only once in a lifetime," declared the Society for Family Health’s David Lewis, who is also associated with South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand.
The article noted that the new results bolster previous studies, undertaken in 2006, in several African nations.
"After pondering risks and benefits, health watchdogs set in motion circumcision campaigns in 13 sub-Saharan countries that have been badly hit by the AIDS virus," the AFP reported. "As of mid-2010, around 175,000 circumcisions had been carried out in the 13 countries considered priorities, according to UNAIDS."
The new results came from a three-year study carried out in a South African township, Orange Farm. Over 20,000 men in the township, most of them 15 - 24, underwent the procedure, the AFP reported.
Two additional studies also shed light on the issue, which has excited suspicion in Africa and controversy in America. One study done at the University of Makerere polled over 300 circumcised men, who said that they enjoyed sex more after the operation. interviewed 316 men, average age 22, who had been circumcised between February and September 2009.
A survey of Western Kenyan men who underwent circumcision found that getting the procedure done did not, as some feared, create a false sense of invulnerability to the virus. Circumcised men there reported that they used safer sex practices such as wearing condoms at the same rate as uncircumcised men.
King Mswati III has taken up circumcision as a weapon in the fight against AIDS, encouraging all the young of his nation to undergo the operation in order to fight the virus, which he likened to a "terrorist."