Additionally, if a woman has passed along viral cells, they're now trapped inside the foreskin, in a moist environment that's conducive for the virus to replicate.
Once Quinn's team found that circumcision reduced the transmission of HIV so dramatically, they went back and rescreened the blood samples to see if circumcision cut down on the rates of other common sexually transmitted viruses. They screened the blood samples for HPV, herpes (specifically HSV-2) and syphilis.
Two years after circumcision, 7.8 percent of those who'd been circumcised had been infected with the herpes virus, while 10.3 percent of the men in the control group had been infected. For high-risk genotypes of HSV, transmission was 18 percent in the circumcision group and just under 28 percent in the control group. There were no statistically significant differences in the rates of syphilis transmission.
Both Quinn and the author of an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal, Dr. Matthew Golden, director of Public Health for Seattle and King County Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control Program, said they believed that the benefits found in this study would be similar for circumcised infants.
Golden, who's also an associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD in Seattle, said, "Circumcision should be routinely offered and available for those who want it. I think circumcision is in the best interest of the child, but not everyone will come to an identical conclusion. What's critical is that parents are getting the right information and that they know there are real health benefits."
"Parents need to talk to their physicians about circumcision. They need to know what are the risks of the surgery? For the neonate, it's an easier procedure; it's less expensive, and there are less complications," said Quinn, who added that there were only minimal adverse event
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