The new skinny on circumcision - A news story
Egyptian circumcision (Pritchard 1954)
For those of you that keep up with these types of things, check out the latest news on circumcision as a strategy to prevent new HIV infections (as summarized by the NY Times article linked below).
For those who prefer a summary “snippet” (couldn’t resist), two big trials (in Kenya and Uganda) were stopped early this week after data showed that new HIV infection among circumcised participants was much less than non-circumcised. The reduction was near 50% in both trials, and was even higher in a previous French government-sponsored trial, which showed a 60% reduction.
The reduction is believed due to the presence of particular sentinel immune cells on the underside of the foreskin (Langerhans cells) that like to attach to the virus, leading to infection.
Policy implications are not entirely clear as of yet (and the costs/benefits as compared to other interventions are still being worked out), but everybody can certainly expect skyrocketing demand for the procedure to get rid of those pesky immune cells and the foreskin where they live, at least among many HIV negative African males.
While I personally prefer HIV education to scalpels, it seems circumcision has suddenly become cutting edge.