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Circumcised men are less susceptible to HIV

Published: Friday 30 April 2004

circumcised men are over six times less likely than uncircumcised men to get infected by hiv. This is the finding of researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Medical School, usa, and the National aids Research Institute, India. They studied 2,298 hiv-uninfected men attending sexually transmitted infection clinics in India. The men were monitored thrice during 1993-2000. During the study period, some of them got infected; these men had not undergone circumcision.

Laboratory analysis showed that the tissue (foreskin) removed from the male sex organ during circumcision has high density of cellular receptors targeted by hiv-1. This increases the risk of contracting the disease.

Earlier studies had also indicated that circumcised men had lower risk of hiv-1 infection. But they attributed the occurrence to low-risk sexual behaviour. The new study shows that circumcised men do suffer from other sexually-transmitted diseases, and hence safe behaviour is unlikely to be the reason for not contracting hiv.

The results, published in The Lancet (Vol 363, No 9414, March 27, 2004), highlight the need to develop compounds that block the entry of hiv in the cellular receptors. Moreover, further clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of circumcision should be carried out in areas where the practice is culturally acceptable, the researchers state.

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