January 7, 2011

Circumcision Prevents HPV

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study reveals circumcision may prevent the spread of the human papillomavirus (HPV).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. In women, a high-risk HPV infection can be a precondition for cervical cancer.

Previous studies have shown that male circumcision reduces the prevalence of high-risk HPV infection in men. For this study, researchers assessed participants who were enrolled in two randomized controlled trials in Rakai, Uganda. They found circumcision in HIV-negative men provides protection against the transmission of HPV to HIV-negative women.

The studies enrolled HIV-negative men and their female partners between 2003 and 2006. Men were assigned to undergo circumcision immediately (the intervention group) or after 24 months (the control group). HIV-negative female partners were tested for HPV at the beginning of the study, at 12 months and at 24 months.

Results showed women who were with a male partner who was circumcised (in the intervention group) had a 23-percent lower risk of being infected with high-risk HPV.

The study authors write, "Along with previous trial results in men, these findings indicate that male circumcision should now be accepted as an efficacious intervention for reducing heterosexually acquired high-risk and low-risk HPV infections in men who do not have HIV and in their female partners. However, our results indicate that protection is only partial; the promotion of safe sex practices is also important."

SOURCE: The Lancet, January 2011