Circumcision to fight HIV

NEJM – Circumcision – A Surgical Strategy for HIV Prevention in Africa

In a radical departure from earlier strategies, public health officials are now arguing that circumcision of men should be a key weapon in the fight against infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Africa. Recent studies have shown that circumcision reduces infection rates by 50 to 60% among heterosexual African men. Experts estimate that more than 3 million lives could be saved in sub-Saharan Africa alone if the procedure becomes widely used. But skeptics argue that efforts to "scale-up" circumcision programs on the continent that has the fewest physicians per capita may draw funds away from other necessary public health programs, ultimately threatening already tenuous health care systems.

Fascinating study, thanks. Of course we should state up front that this doesn’t imply that condoms are only for uncircumcised men - we all need to be aware of the risks. This data does help us a lot when it comes to understanding STD infection. Having unprotected sex with multiple partners might still be likened to playing Russian Roulette, it’s just that there is one bullet in the six chambers, not two.

Interesting that this deals the third smack-down to Jacob Zuma’s HIV ignorance. We all remember the reports of his rape trial testimony. He claimed that he was not at risk because:

  • he is male (facepalm, how is it that the male population is infected at all then?)
  • he is not circumcised (refuted above)
  • and he took a shower after having sex … (risky, according to this study)

JZ, if this is the way that you always have sex, continue to get tested, the virus is dormant for 9 months so continue to get tested regularly even if you are not showing symptoms.


And also that condoms are still much more effective than the 50-60% claimed in the study… and not to mention much more gentle to use ;D

Fact-check error, he never claimed that James …



I don’t think this will change things much. Most African men are circumcised. It is part of initiation ceremonies in Africa. Maybe not done so much in the city anymore, but I know for a fact of some young men that came from Jo burg to our farm to do theirs.