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Home HPV Research HPV Research Male Circumcision Protective Against HPV and HSV

Male Circumcision Protective Against HPV and HSV

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Research has shown circumcision more than halves a man’s risk of acquiring HIV. New studies show this simple, common procedure also makes it less likely a man will become infected with herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) and genital HPV.

Aaron A.R. Tobian, MD, Ph.D, and investigators with the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) randomized nearly 3,400 subjects in Rakai, Uganda – all of which were negative for HIV, HSV-2, and HPV - into two groups: one that received immediate circumcision and another for which circumcision was delayed for the 24-month period of the study. At enrollment and six month intervals, subjects were tested for HSV-2 and syphilis. A subset within each of the groups was also evaluated for genital HPV infection.

Circumcision was found to be protective, reducing the likelihood of acquiring an HSV-2 infection by 28% (after adjustment): At 24 months, 7.8% of the subjects in the intervention group were found to have HSV-2 infections, compared with 10.3% for the control group. Circumcision also reduced HPV infections by 35%: nearly 28% of those in the control group were positive for HPV after 24 months, compared to 18% in the circumcision group. Circumcision had no impact, however, on syphilis acquisition.

Another study also touts the value of circumcision in reducing the incidence of HPV. Anna Giuliano, PhD, and colleagues followed 988 18-70 year old men to determine risk factors for HPV in males. The subjects were recruited from the U.S., Brazil, and Mexico, and samples were taken from the shaft of the penis, corona, glans, and scrotum. The investigators found that circumcision “was associated with reduced risk of HPV detection across all categories of HPV evaluated.”

A Tobian, D Serwadda, T Quinn, G Kigozi, P Gravitt, O Laeyendecker, B Charvat, V Ssempijja, M Riedesel, A Oliver, R Nowak, L Moulton, M Chen, S Reynolds, M Wawer, and R Gray. Male circumcision for the prevention of HSV-2 and HPV infections and syphilis. New England Journal of Medicine, 2009. 360(13):1298-1309.

B Auvert,D Taljaard,E Lagarde, J Sobngwi-Tambekou,R Sitta,A Puren. Randomized, controlled intervention trial of male circumcision for reduction of HIV infection risk: the ANRS 1265 Trial. Public Library of Science Medicine, 2005. 2(11):e298.

Giuliano, A, Lazcano, E, Villa, LL, Flores, R, Salmeron, J, Lee, JH, Papenfuss, M, Abrahamsen, M,  Baggio, ML, Silva, R, Quiterio, M. Circumcision and sexual behavior: factors independently associated with human papillomavirus detection among men in the HIM study. International journal of Cancer, 2009.124 (6):1251-7.