Friday April 19 2013

Study shows how circumcision lowers HIV/Aids infection rate

Clinical officers perform a circumcision procedure.

Clinical officers perform a circumcision procedure. Circumcision has been widely favoured in the prevention of HIV/Aids after evidence from a trial FILE PHOTO 

By Sarah Tumwebaze

A new study conducted on Ugandan men has given more evidence showing how male circumcision could lower the rates of HIV infection.

According to a press statement from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (Tgen) in Phoenix, Arizona, a genetic analysis of the microbial inhabitants of the penis among a group of 156 men in Rakai District, who provided samples before circumcision and again a year later, indicates that changes in the population of bacteria living on and around the penis may be partly responsible for this intervention.

“Men who were circumcised as part of the study had 33.3 per cent less bacteria on their penis than those that remained uncircumcised one year after the study began,” the study notes.

“They also had 81 per cent less bacteria overall compared to the uncircumcised men, and that could have a dramatic effect on the men’s ability to fight off infections like HIV,” Mr Lance Price, the director of Tgen Centre for Microbiomics and Human Health and the study’s senior author, explains.

The study was conducted in conjunction with the Rakai Health Sciences Programme, Entebbe, the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland.

Circumcision has been widely favoured in the prevention of HIV/Aids after evidence from a land mark-randomised trial in 2005 and 2007 conducted in Uganda, South Africa and Kenya showed that it could reduce a man’s risk of contracting HIV/Aids by up to 60 per cent.

Uganda launched its safe male circumcision policy in 2010, which aims at providing circumcision to 40 per cent of men aged 14-49 over a five year period, according to the Ministry of Health.

By launching the policy, the government officially added circumcision to the traditional ABC-abstinence, faithfulness and use of condom approach in the fight against HIV/Aids.