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Ignoring an Important Weapon Against
Since 1987, when it was first reported
in leading scientific journals that circumcision protects
against HIV/AIDS , many studies have confirmed that uncircumcised
men are from 3-7 times more likely to acquire HIV infection
following heterosexual exposure than are circumcised
men. The most recent research from a study in India ,starting
in 1993, found an 8-fold increased risk in uncircumcised
men . A report from the U.S Agency for International
Development (USAID) this year reviewed 28 studies relating
the HIV/Circumcision connection and found that sexually
-exposed circumcised men are half as likely to get HIV
as are uncircumcised men. A spokesperson for USAID stated
that there is "an incredible preponderance of evidence" of
the protective effect of circumcision.
The reason for this protection has been found by Dr
Roger Short and his group at Melbourne University in
Australia.. The virus in HIV was found to enter the body
by sticking to the moist undersurface of the foreskin
, where there are specialized cells with HIV" receptors".
The rest of the penis has cells with a keratin covering
which keeps the virus out.Dr Short stated in a recent
meeting that "if you take the foreskin away you
remove most of the receptor sites for HIV, you drastically
reduce risk" of getting HIV infection.
Edward Green, an HIV researcher at Harvard, estimated
that if all males in Africa were circumcised the rate
of HIV could be reduced from 20% to under 5%. AIDS is
responsible for over 20 million deaths in Sub-Saharan
Africa and millions are infected every year. Dr Malcolm
Potts from the University of California earlier estimated
that 8 million African deaths from AIDS could have been
prevented by circumcision. In view of the enormity of
the epidemic , it is difficult to understand why this
simple, low risk procedure has been largely ignored by
international health and diplomatic organizations to
help fight HIV.Would this attitude be different if the
AIDS epidemic occured in more developed countries?