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Circumcision Does Not Prevent Spread of HIV, Experts Warn

A study has been launched by a team of researchers led by Devon Brewer, director of the research firm, Interdisciplinary Scientific// Research, prompting for more research on certain tribal rituals such as circumcision and their effect on the spread of HIV.

As against common notion and previous studies, the study findings have proved that circumcision of males and female genital mutilation of virgins can in no way stem the spread of HIV. On the contrary they only serve to spread HIV.

The research, published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, found that circumcised virgins and adolescents in Kenya, Lesotho, and Tanzania, where the practice is common, were consistently and substantially more likely to be infected with HIV than their uncircumcised counterparts.

The scientists found that the cut in itself was causing many new AIDS cases among adolescents as it was performed in unhygienic situations with un-sterilized and often, shared instruments.

The researchers based their findings on data analyzed from the 'Demographic and Health Surveys', which are based on nationally representative samples of adolescents and adults.

These findings in particular raise questions about how to understand the recent randomized trials of male circumcision in South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda. These studies, in which some uncircumcised men were randomly assigned to be circumcised in presumably sterile conditions and others were not circumcised, showed that male circumcision reduced HIV acquisition.

The popular news reporting of these findings had been widespread in Africa resulting in the basic message in African media, that that circumcising young boys - and sometimes girls - protected them from contracting HIV-AIDS.

In contrast, the new study shows that this conclusion is not only wrong, but also a dangerous message, due to the poor hygienic standards normally applied at circumcision ceremonies.

Brewer and his colleagues have called for more intensive study of HIV transmission in the context of both traditional and medical circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa.
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