Health Benefits Of Male Circumcision In Black, African Men

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HIV risk appears to be lower among U.S. black men who have been circumcised and are considered at high risk of contracting the virus than among black men who have not been circumcised, according to a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, Reuters reports. Two other studies in the journal also examine the benefits of male circumcision to prevent the spread of disease and infection.

For one of the studies, CDC researcher Lee Warner and colleagues looked at black men living in Baltimore and found that 10% of those who were at high risk of HIV and were circumcised had the virus, compared with 22% of those who were not circumcised. According to the report, "Circumcision was associated with substantially reduced HIV risk in patients with known HIV exposure, suggesting that results of other studies demonstrating reduced HIV risk for circumcision among heterosexual men likely can be generalized to the U.S. context."

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Ronald Gray of Johns Hopkins University and colleagues in an editorial accompanying the study noted that in the U.S., circumcision is less common among blacks and Hispanics. However, blacks and Hispanics are the most at-risk of groups for contracting the virus. "Thus, circumcision may afford an additional means of protection from HIV in these at-risk minorities," they wrote.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend routine circumcision for infants, and as a result, Medicaid does not cover the procedure, according to the editorial. The editorial adds that "this is particularly disadvantageous for poorer African-American and Hispanic boys who, as adults, may face high HIV exposure risk" (Fox, Reuters Health, 12/17).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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