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12 January 2009
Circumcision found to help prevent HPV infection
by George Atkinson

Following on from earlier studies (see below) that showed circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection, new studies in The Journal of Infectious Diseases show that circumcision appears to also assist in the prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection; particularly the high-risk HPV subtypes that are associated with cervical and penile cancer.

In the past, evidence has shown that women with circumcised partners have a reduced risk for genital cancer, and the two new studies sought to discover if HPV infection is more likely to occur in uncircumcised compared with circumcised men.

In the first study, Bertran Auvert and his team of researchers in France, along with colleagues in South Africa, analyzed data from a South African trial where urethral swab samples were collected (from circumcised and uncircumcised men) and analyzed for the presence of HPV. Information about sexual behavior was also collected.

Auvert found that the percentage of high-risk HPV genotypes was lower in the circumcised group than in the control group. The most important implication, according to researchers, was that "reducing the frequency of HPV infection among men will reduce the risk of exposure in their female sexual partners."

In the second study, US researchers led by Carrie Nielson, at the Oregon Health & Science University, tested more than four hundred men aged between 18 and 40 years in two U.S. cities. The researchers tested for HPV in skin swabs and semen samples in participants with no HPV symptoms (such as warts or lesions).

The investigators found that circumcised men were about half as likely to have HPV as uncircumcised men, after adjustment for other differences in the two groups. These results, say the researchers, demonstrated that lack of circumcision is associated with cervical cancer because of the increased risk of HPV infection. Somewhat controversially, Nielson suggests the findings present a compelling argument to promote male circumcision in developing countries where circumcision is not widely used.

HPV - Warts And All
Circumcision Still A Divisive Issue In UK
Another HIV Circumcision Trial Halted
Mass Circumcisions In Africa "Could Prevent Millions Of AIDS Deaths"
HIV And Circumcision
The Case For Penis Pruning

Source: The Journal of Infectious Diseases

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