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Circumcision Guards Against STDs
Date:3/25/2009

Study finds procedure dramatically reduces transmission of herpes, human papillomavirus

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- The decision of whether or not to circumcise an infant can be a difficult one, but new research suggests that having the procedure may reduce the risk of certain infections later in life.

In a study of more than 5,000 uncircumcised adult Ugandan males, researchers found that after circumcision, the rates of infection with the virus that causes herpes went down by 28 percent, and the transmission of human papillomavirus (HPV) -- the virus that can cause cervical cancer and genital warts -- was reduced by 35 percent.

In a previous study, the same researchers found that circumcision reduced infection with the HIV virus by 60 percent. Two other research groups -- one working in Kenya and the other in South Africa -- have also had similar findings.

"We hope these data will ultimately result in policy changes in recommending circumcision for young boys or adult men to decrease the rates of infection with HIV, HPV and herpes," said the lead author of the Ugandan study, Dr. Thomas Quinn, a senior investigator in infectious diseases at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Results of Quinn's study appear in the March 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Quinn said there are several reasons that removing the foreskin of the penis might help reduce transmission of certain infections. The foreskin, he explained, has two different sides. The outside is much like regular skin cells. However, the inside is mucosal, similar to a woman's vagina, Quinn explained. During intercourse, the skin side is pulled back and the mucosal side is open and exposed. And, he said, it's likely that there are viral receptors on that mucosal side that make it easier for a virus t
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