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Study: Male Circumcision Helps Prevent 2 STDs

Study: Male Circumcision Helps Prevent 2 STDs

Alicia Chang / AP

March 26, 2009

LOS ANGELES – Circumcision not only protects against HIV in heterosexual men, but it also helps prevent two other sexually transmitted infections, a large new study found. Circumcised males reduced their risk of infection with HPV, or human papillomavirus, by 35 percent and herpes by 28 percent. However, researchers found circumcision had no effect on the transmission of syphilis.

Landmark studies from three African countries including Uganda previously found circumcision lowered men’s chance of catching the AIDS virus by up to 60 percent. The new study stems from the Uganda research and looked at protection against three other STDs. The findings are reported in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine

“Evidence now strongly suggests that circumcision offers an important prevention opportunity and should be widely available,” Drs. Matthew Golden and Judith Wasserheit of the University of Washington wrote in an accompanying editorial.

Worldwide, only about 30 percent of men are circumcised. The figure is higher in the United States, where about 79 percent of men are circumcised, according to surveys by the National Center for Health Statistics.

An international team of researchers who conducted the study said circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis, should be an accepted method to reduce sexually transmitted infections among heterosexuals.

“It must be emphasized that protection was only partial, and it is critical to promote the practice of safe sex,” they wrote.

HPV can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. Herpes greatly increases the chances of infection with HIV.

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