Can circumcision really help in preventing HIV AIDS infection? It has been a point of interest for both the general population as well as the scientists if the age old custom of circumcision is actually useful as a HIV prevention or not. Recently concluded studies over the subject have provided answers.
HIV infection can be prevented by upto a margin of 60 percent by resorting to circumcision and this fact is now backed by compelling evidence generated by various medical organizations including WHO. But the studies show reduction of potential risk in cases of heterosexually acquired HIV infection among men.
The WHO conducted three randomized controlled trials for the study. Now along with the UNAIDS, they have come up with a list of recommendations that lay stress on the importance of circumcision as preventive measure against HIV infection among the heterosexual male population, especially among the countries facing heterosexual epidemics and high HIV rates.
The process of circumcision involves the removal of the foreskin, a fold of loose skin covering the head of the penis. The practice of circumcising males right from birth is observed in many cultures and tribes all over the world since a very long period of time. It was during 1980’s that scientists and medical professionals hypothesized the preventive role of the procedure in HIV infection. Since then numerous extensive studies have been conducted.
It is considered to be one of the most cost-effective and simple methods for prevention against contraction of HIV infection through heterosexual intercourse. It is more reliable than condoms in some ways. Condoms are definitely a very good preventive, but the stipulation lies in the fact that they must be used correctly everytime. Yet it is no substitute for condoms to prevent pregnancy in any way! It is infact advisable to use condoms even after circumcision to further minimize the potential risk.
However, male circumcision is only a partial method of prevention and must be supplemented by an entire comprehensive package of prevention methods as directed by the WHO/UNAIDS :
- HIV testing and counseling services must be availed.
- Treatment for sexually transmitted infections
- The promotion of safer sex practices.
- The provision of male and female condoms and promotion of their correct and consistent use.
So, based on the studies and research evidence, it can be concluded that circumcision for males does play a vital role in HIV prevention and if well supplemented with other measures, it reduces the risk of infection to an almost minimal level.
But still the best way to protect against HIV is to be cautious and have a safe intimate life.