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Male circumcision reduces risk of HIV transmission from women to men

lso found greater HIV infection risk for uncircumcised men. Unlike those studies, however, the present study was also able to take into account cultural characteristics that might be responsible for differences in sexual behavior. These differences could, in turn, account for differences in the risk of infection. But the researchers found that cultural differences in sexual behavior did not matter: when groups of men were excluded from the analysis based on ethnic or religious characteristics, the difference in probability of infection related to circumcision status did not change.

In addition to the results on circumcision, another significant result of the study was the high overall rate of per-contact infection. In past studies that attempted to calculate the probability of female-to-male infection through heterosexual sex, the cohorts consisted only of monogamous couples in which the female partners were HIV-positive. However, in some areas of Africa where HIV infection rates are highest, multiple, concurrent partnerships are more common than monogamous couplings. Past studies of monogamous couples found that the probability of HIV transmission per-act of sexual intercourse was on the order of one in 1000 or less, much lower than the probability of one in 160 found in this study. Taken with the authors' evidence that female-to-male infection rates may be more than two-fold greater for uncircumcised men, this new information may help us understand why the virus is spreading rapidly in parts of Africa, and help define better HIV strategies for prevention in these settings.


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Contact: Steve Baragona
sbaragona@idsociety.org
703-299-0412
Infectious Diseases Society of America
19-Jan-2005


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