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September 29, 2008

Aussie Researcher: Circumcision Protects Gay Tops from HIV
FILED UNDER: "Gay Men's Health & Culture"
TAGS: AustraliacircumcisionHIV / AIDSHIV Prevention
By Trevor

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New research out fo the University of New South Wales in Australia supports what many HIV/AIDS researchers had suspected for years now: circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV for gay men who predominately "top" (e.g. are the insertive partner in anal sex). Obviously, this does not impact us bottoms.

Here's the news:

Sydney - Circumcision can help protect gay men from contracting the virus that causes HIV/AIDS, researchers in Australia have found. "We have shown for the first time that men who predominantly take on the insertive role in sex are less likely to contract HIV if they have been circumcised," David Templeton, from the University of New South Wales, told an international gathering in Perth.

The Sydney-based researcher said his team studied 1,426 HIV-negative men, two-thirds of whom were circumcised, and tracked their HIV infection over four years.

While circumcision did not reduce the HIV risk overall, the study found men who predominantly took the insertive role had an 85-per-cent reduced risk of contracting HIV if they were circumcised.

Templeton warned against any notion that circumcision provided protection, noting that most HIV infections were contracted in the receptive role, not the insertive role.

Circumcision provides some protection because it removes the foreskin which is prone to lesions, which in allow the virus to enter the body through the penis.

Now the question is, do we want to sacrifice 1000s of nerve endings, better orgasms, and pleasure in the face of this data? I'm not so sure.

PERMALINK | Posted at 1:36 PM | Post a Comment (5)

5 Comments

Not more rhetoric from the pro-male-genital-mutilation lobbby... Dutch medical researchers found in early 2007 that the inner foreskin destroys the HIV virus "dead in its tracks".
Please amend this false information and let the gay community that being left natural at birth is the way humans have evolved.
In the USA, male genital mutilation is a huge business.
Generally referred to as the 'Circumcision Industry'.

Disillusioned Aussie Man

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=79688

Liam Gustov | September 29, 2008 8:57 PM

Unfortunately, the interesting study you've referred us to does not prove what you've indicated it does. Instead, it indicates that in a lab setting, certain cells that have only been observed in foreskin tissue is able to disarm HIV. This of course does not actually tell us that having foreskin reduces risk. To prove that the study would have actually had to examine infection risk in circumcised versus uncircumcised individuals. That study did not do that. The study that I referenced originally, however, did do that. And it found that circumcised men who mostly top were less likely to become infected. I'm afraid the data has amassed to the point where refuting it would be very difficult. The next step is to consider the ethics of promoting such a prevention strategy.

Trevor Hoppe | September 29, 2008 9:24 PM

David Templeton's statement is not supported by the actual data of the study being cited.

Here is the study abstract:


Results: At baseline, 66% of participants reported being circumcised; mostly as infants. There were 49 HIV seroconversions through 2006, an incidence of 0.80 per 100PY. On multivariate analysis controlling for non-concordant unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), anorectal STIs and age, being circumcised was not associated with HIV seroconversion (RR = 0.88, 95% CI 0.45-1.74). Among men who reported no receptive UAI, there were nine seroconversions, an incidence of 0.35 per 100PY. When analyses were restricted to this group, there was also no association with HIV seroconversion (RR = 0.99, 95% CI 0.25-3.96).

Conclusion: Circumcision status was not associated with HIV seroconversion in this cohort. Although statistical power was limited, among men who were more likely to acquire HIV by insertive UAI, there was also no relationship. As most HIV infections in homosexual men occur after receptive anal sex, circumcision is unlikely to be an effective HIV prevention intervention in Australian gay men. However, further research in populations where there is more separation into exclusively receptive or insertive sexual roles by homosexually active men is warranted.

There was no association between circumcision and serovconcersion. No association amongst the 49 total seroconversions. No association in the 9 who reported being exclusively "tops." No association.

Only 9 serovonversions among "men who predominantly take on the insertive role in sex" is a pretty small number from which to draw a conclusion, anyway.

David Templeton appears to be misstating the actual results of the study. What's more unfortunate is the media are dutifully reporting it without any apparent fact-checking.

ThisStudy | September 29, 2008 11:26 PM

Yes I saw that bit. It is a bit perplexing, isn't it? I think -- to be quite honest -- HIV prevention researchers are absolutely *desperate* for new technologies for prevention in the face of escalating infections and reduced condom use among MSM populations. Rectal microbicides are another avenue here that's being explored. It's interesting here in this case that a differentiation is being made between tops and bottoms, something I don't see explored very much in prevention research (despite the obvious and extreme risk gap). This is something I'm looking into now qualitatively with a study of HIV-negative bottoms in San Francisco.

Trevor Hoppe | September 29, 2008 11:38 PM

Perplexing is one word for it.

There have been a few other recent studies looking for a potential relationship between circumcision and HIV, which each found no link.

There's something about circumcision that makes some people (usually circumcised men) really, really want to find something it's good for. There also seems to be a lot of uncritical thinking involved in accepting the medical claims.

I understand the desperation to do something and HIV, but it's pretty sad for it to be exploited the same way other bogus claims of circumcision benefit have been asserted and eventually discredited as the next unproven claim takes over.

If you haven't seen the website Circumcision and HIV, you may find it informative.

ThisStudy | September 30, 2008 12:01 AM


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