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Circumcision no defense against HIV in gay men
Atlanta, August 26: Although a research from Africa on HIV/AIDS establishing that circumcision can decrease HIV contraction rates by as much as 60 percent among heterosexual men is encouraging, it is not really effective in helping to stem the spread of HIV among American gays.
At the 2009 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, researchers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared that circumcision as a procedure "is not considered beneficial" in preventing sexual transmission of HIV among men who have sex with men.
The study led by Dr. Peter Kilmarx reveals that the effectiveness of circumcision which is being advocated in many developing countries as a strategy for lowering the risk of HIV infection is inadequate.
CDC's analysis of data
The CDC researchers analyzed data from the 1998-2002 of 4,889 men who had anal sex with an HIV-infected partner. The investigators observed that the 3.5 percent infection rate exhibited was practically the same, irrespective of whether the men were circumcised or not.
The statistics state that circumcision does not protect gay and bisexual men from HIV. On the contrary, in some cases, it does more harm than good, giving circumcised men a false safety net to indulge in unprotected sex.
Nearly 80 percent of the American men are already circumcised as compared to 30 percent of males circumcised globally. Whereas elsewhere in the world, HIV spreads through heterosexual sex, in U.S., nearly 48 percent of the 1.1 million men infected with HIV are gay.
It should be remembered that male circumcision is not a vaccine against HIV. One can still get HIV if indulging in unprotected sex with an infected person. Circumcised men should be encouraged to use other prevention choices, such as condoms.
Medical procedure made sensitive due to religious and cultural influences
Male circumcision is being successfully implemented in many populations, but the procedure is also associated with strong cultural and religious beliefs. Many feel that the government should not impose the procedure, but instead promote it through educationcampaign for parents, highlighting potential benefits and risks in a sensitive way that is acceptable to the majority. "It's seen by many as more than just as medical procedure," said Dr. Kilmarx. The circumcision debate will rage on for a while before this custom is accepted in the nation. The current research and public health debate around the procedure may influence the agency?s preparations of a formal recommendation for it in 2010.s
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