Circumcision Is a Good Decision, Reduces HPV Transmission
Adult male circumcision can reduce the prevalence and incidence of HPV transmission (human papillomavirus) from men to their female partners, according to a new study published in Lancet. Although male circumcision may be a good decision, safe sex practices are still necessary for full protection.
Women can benefit from male circumcision
According to the World Health Organization, HPV is the second largest cause of female cancer deaths worldwide, with 288,000 deaths per year. About 80 percent of cervical cancer cases occur in developing countries. While HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer, the infection can also cause vulvar, vaginal, penile, and anal cancer, as well as some cases of head and neck cancers.
Two independent randomized controlled trials of male circumcision were conducted in Uganda. All the men in the trials were HIV-negative at the time of enrollment. Of the 2,786 men assigned to undergo circumcision (intervention) immediately, nearly half (49%) were married or in a consensual relationship with a total of 1,463 women. Of the 2,819 men in the control group (postponement of circumcision for 24 months), 48 percent were married or in a committed relationship with a total of 1,429 women.
The researchers also enrolled the female partners of the male participants and provided self-collected vaginal swabs at the start of the trial and at 12 and 24 months. Due to difficulties with the collection swabs, the presence of HIV in some women, and loss at follow-up, a total of 544 women of men from the intervention group and 488 of men from the control group completed the study.
At the 24-month mark, 151 (27.8%) of women who had circumcised partners had high-risk HPV infection compared with 189 (38.7%) of women of uncircumcised partners. Although this study did not investigate the relationship between HPV infection and cervical cancer, previous research shows lower rates of cervical cancer associated with male circumcision.
The authors note that male circumcision appears to be an effective way to reduce HPV transmission. Other studies have already shown that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes simplex virus-2, and genital ulcer disease in men, as well as trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and genital ulcer disease in female partners.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Wawer MJ et al. Lancet 2011 Jan 7
World Health Organization