Circumcision Does Cut HIV Risk in Africa

While the practice of circumcising males has been facing a recent backlash in the U.S., new research affirms the belief that it may have a positive public-health effect, specifically when it comes to the spread of HIV. Although circumcision had been shown to reduce the risk of contracting HIV by as much as 60 percent, many scientists were worried that the practice would only encourage riskier behavior, such as unprotected sex, because men would mistakenly feel protected from the virus. Researchers at the University of Illinois investigated the sex lives of 3,000 men ages 18 to 35 in Kenya’s Nyanza province over two years. They found no difference in risky sexual behavior whether men had opted to undergo circumcision. Neal Westercamp, a lead scientist on the study, said, “Countries that have been holding back on implementing medical circumcision programs due to a lack of evidence regarding risk compensation should have no concerns about scaling-up programs.” It was presented at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.