Does male circumcision protect against HIV? not completely…

We might all know that Male Circumcision (MC) reduces HIV acquisition by 60%, this does not mean that all MC is protective for HIV.

Before I start I want to acknowledge that MC is a sensitive subject and I sincerely hope not to offend anyone reading this note.

One of the main ways in which HIV infects males is through sexual intercourse, studies has revealed that HIV infects males much easier through the foreskin. Recent research has shown that through removal or cutting of foreskin males have a 60% CHANCE of not being infected.

Firstly whether MC protects men from HIV depends on many factors.

It appears that in some cultures/communities the initiation may involve only a nick to the foreskin, or cutting the frenulum, or removing a small wedge of the foreskin but leaving a little or most of it behind. This obviously raises huge communication challenges because the men might believe they are completely circumcised and thus at lower risk of acquiring HIV when in fact they still have most or all of their foreskin.

Messages we should be sending is:
Male circumcision is good for men’s sexual health and protects
against sexually transmitted infections, but it does not protect against HIV
COMPLETELY.

* Men who are circumcised still need to use condoms, reduce sexual
partners, and delay having sex.

* Transactional sex, intergenerational sex and sex when drunk are all
high risk behaviours for HIV, whether a person is circumcised or not.

* If you are HIV positive, male circumcision does not protect you or
your partner

* Male Circumcision does not protect MEN who have SEX with MEN

* If a man is circumcised it DOES NOT mean he is HIV negative.

* Circumcision DOES NOT protect women against HIV

The education and social support provided in initiation schools is valuable, indeed priceless, to many
communities and it is possible to preserve this while also ensuring that the initiates get accurate information about sexual health and HIV as well as safe and complete circumcisions.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Does male circumcision protect against HIV? not completely…

  1. Mark Lyndon

    In Europe, almost no-one circumcises unless they’re Muslim or Jewish, and they have significantly lower rates than the US of almost all STI’s including HIV.

    Even in Africa, there are six countries where men are more likely to be HIV+ if they’ve been circumcised: Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, and Swaziland. Eg in Malawi, the HIV rate is 13.2% among circumcised men, but only 9.5% among intact men. In Rwanda, the HIV rate is 3.5% among circumcised men, but only 2.1% among intact men. If circumcision really worked against AIDS, this just wouldn’t happen. We now have people calling circumcision a “vaccine” or “invisible condom”, and viewing circumcision as an alternative to condoms.

    The one study into male-to-female transmission showed a 50% higher rate in the group where the men had been circumcised btw.

    ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery will cost lives, not save them.

  2. ango

    “Male circumcision is good for men’s sexual health and protects
    against sexually transmitted infections, but it does not protect against HIV
    COMPLETELY.”

    This comment is ridiculous. Circumcision has nothing to do with HIV, these studies are biased but circumcision also reduces sexual pleasure by removing 80% of nere endings.

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