In a recent press release, research firm Interdisciplinary Scientific Research announced that male and female circumcisions done with instruments that have not been sterilized may actually be spreading the HIV virus rather than helping to prevent it.
Devon D. Brewer, director of the Interdisciplinary Scientific Research stated “We found that circumcised virgins and adolescents in Kenya, Lesotho, and Tanzania were consistently and substantially more likely to be infected with HIV than their uncircumcised counterparts.”
By analyzing data from the Demographic and Health Surveys, researchers also discovered that sexually active, circumcised young men were no less likely to contract the HIV virus than virgins, indicating that AIDS is spreading by means other than sexual activity.
Brewer states that previous research recommending circumcision as a prevention for AIDS does not appear to have considered the circumstances under which the procedure would likely be performed. In reality, circumcised virgins and adolescents in Kenya, Lesotho and Tanzania were consistently and substantially more likely to be infected with HIV than their uncircumcised counterparts.”
The study is published in the March issue of Annals of Epidemiology.
Critics of the study claim that unsterile circumcisions account for only a small number of the total circumcisions being performed, and that the status of “virgin” was self-reported in the study and not medically verified.
The National Institutes of Health claim that clinical trials in Africa have been definitive and recommend circumcising adult males as a measure for reducing HIV transmission in both men and women.
The UN has urged caution in making blanket recommendations, stating that people may mistakenly believe they can safely engaged in risky sexually activity after having the procedure. “Circumcised men can still become infected with the virus and, if HIV-positive, can infect their sexual partners.”
The physicians’ group Doctors Opposing Circumcision goes farther to say that all recent studies are flawed, in that they were cut off early “before the incidence of infection in circumcised males caught up with the incidence of infection in the non-circumcised males. If the studies had continued for their scheduled time, it is probable that there would have been little difference between the circumcised group and the non-circumcised group.”
“The United States has the highest rate of HIV infection,” they continue, “and the highest rate of male circumcision in the industrialized world. Male circumcision, therefore, cannot reasonably be thought to prevent HIV infection.”
Approximately 30 million sub-Saharan Africans carry HIV/AIDS. About 90% of cases are contracted through heterosexual intercourse.