Male Circumcision May Increase Women's Risk of HIV Infection
Male circumcision reduces men's risk of HIV infection by about half, but can increase the risk of infection in women if they have unprotected sex with men too soon after the operation, suggests preliminary data from a study by American and Ugandan researchers.
The findings may complicate efforts to promote circumcision as a new way to fight HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS -- in Africa. The research also suggests that public health campaigns promoting circumcision need to warn women about the dangers of having intercourse with HIV-positive men who haven't fully healed after being circumcised, the Washington Post reported.
The study found that among 70 HIV-positive men who were circumcised, 11 of their female partners became infected with HIV in the month after the men had the surgery. Among a group of 54 uncircumcised men with HIV, four of their female partners were infected with HIV.
However, the researchers noted that the findings were not statistically significant and may have occurred only by chance, the Post reported.
The findings were presented Tuesday at a meeting of international health experts in Switzerland.
"The data that we have heard do not derail (the potential usefulness of circumcision) by any means. What it does do is provide a little more insight about the complexities that face us," Kevin De Cock, director of the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS department, told the Post.