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Role of Circumcision in Reducing HIV Risk Still Unclear
Date:10/7/2008

to 1996, the era that preceded the use of powerful AIDS drugs, Millett said. The meaning of that number isn't clear; it's possible that many of the men who avoided HIV infection in the older studies engaged in less risky sex, he added.

Vermund said the question of whether circumcision protects gay men from HIV won't be answered until a clinical trial is conducted. Such a study may require some participants to undergo circumcision to understand how it affects their risk of HIV.

Vermund, co-author of a commentary accompanying the new study, added: "It would be nice if the global community would say, 'Look, we continue to have a horrific problem in men who have sex with men around the world. We need to know whether circumcision is a tool that could reduce the incidents, and we're not going to know that unless we do the clinical trials.'"

Such a study would be difficult to launch in the United States, he said, but it might be possible in South America, where gay men are less likely to be circumcised.

More information

Learn more about HIV and circumcision from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



SOURCES: Gregorio A. Millett, M.P.H., senior behavioral scientist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Sten H. Vermund, M.D., director, Institute for Global Health, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn.; Oct. 8, 2008, Journal of the American Medical Association


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