Circumcision Can Reduce AIDS Risk, Study Shows

MONDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Circumcision does not decrease a man's sexual pleasure or function, but it does help reduce his risk of contracting the AIDS virus and suffering a penile injury, according to two new studies.

Austrian researchers analyzing biopsies from 20 circumcised and uncircumcised men found that the inner foreskin of the penis contains a higher concentration of Langerhans cells -- a prime target of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV -- than any other part of the male foreskin. Because this would make the inner foreskin more susceptible to HIV, removing it through circumcision would help lower a man's risk of contracting HIV, they concluded.

In the second study, a two-year study of nearly 3,000 Kenyan men found that those who were recently circumcised were less likely to suffer coital injuries, such as scratches, cuts, scrapes or soreness, than those who had their foreskin intact. Sexual function was determined to be similar between the circumcised and uncircumcised groups, according to the research team, which was from the United States, Canada and Africa.

The studies are to be presented this week in Chicago at the annual scientific meeting of the American Urological Association.

"These are important reports which support the concepts that circumcision does not interfere with sexual function and that circumcision is an important element of HIV prevention in sub-Saharan Africa," association spokesman Dr. Ira D. Sharlip said in a news release issued by the organization.

"At the same time, it should be emphasized that circumcision must be combined with other techniques of HIV prevention, such as safe sex and voluntary testing," he said. "It is not sufficient to rely on circumcision alone to prevent HIV transmission."

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Urological Association, news release, April 26, 2009

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