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Male Circumcision Studies Affect Sexual Behavior Of MSM

Armen Hareyan's picture

Male Circumcision

HIV/AIDS experts are warning men who have sex with men in Senegal thatmale circumcision alone does not prevent HIV transmission and areurging MSM to use other methods to protect themselves against thevirus, IRIN News reports. According to IRIN News,the warning comes after research indicated that circumcision could helpprevent HIV transmission; however, the research was conducted amongheterosexual men (IRIN News, 8/8).

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According to final data from two NIH-funded studies -- conducted in Uganda and Kenya and published in the Feb. 23 issue of the journal Lancet-- routine male circumcision could reduce a man's risk of HIV infectionthrough heterosexual sex by 65%. The results of the Uganda and Kenyastudies mirrored similar results of a study conducted in South Africa in 2005. In response to the findings, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS in March recommended the procedure as a way to help reduce transmission of the virus through heterosexual sex (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/22).

Accordingto the French Institute for Applied Medicine and Epidemiology, about21.5% of Senegalese MSM are HIV-positive, compared with 0.7% of thegeneral population. HIV/AIDS experts are concerned that the study'sfindings could confuse MSM and lead to more risky sexual behavior, aswell as a higher HIV prevalence among the population. A 2003 studyconducted by Cheikh Niang of the Cheikh Anta Diop Universityin Senegal's capital, Dakar, found that 23% of MSM used a condom duringtheir most recent sexual encounter. In addition, many Senegalese MSMalso have wives or girlfriends to be accepted by society -- placingmore people at risk of contracting HIV -- IRIN News reports.

Accordingto some observational research, male circumcision could reduce the riskof HIV among MSM by about 50%. However, Bertran Auvert, an author forthe 2005 South Africa study, said that because the studies wereobservational, they "prove nothing." Auvert added that experts "canmerely suppose" that circumcision offers a "certain level ofprotection."

Jean-Louis Rodriguez -- former executive secretaryof And Ligeey, a Senegalese association that promotes the rights of MSM-- said experts do "not want to encourage people to hide behind theidea that circumcision completely prevents the transmission of HIV."Rodriguez added that HIV prevention messages "must always be targeted"toward MSM. Khoudia Sow, WHO's HIV/AIDS director in Senegal, said thattargeting HIV prevention messages at MSM is "not a question of revisingall our prevention techniques," adding that "circumcision could play apart in the range of existing measures, but in no instance would itsubstitute them" (IRIN News, 8/8).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.