September 25, 2005
Circumcision urged to prevent HIV
CAPE TOWN -- A South African AIDS specialist yesterday advocated male circumcision as the best available "vaccine" against HIV in his country, where an estimated 6 million people are infected and more than 600 people die every day.
Dr. Francois Venter told a congress of health activists in the Treatment Action Campaign that a recent survey in the Soweto township indicated that circumcised men were 65 percent less likely to contract AIDS than those who had not been circumcised.
"We dream of a vaccine which has this efficacy," said Dr. Venter, clinical director of the Reproductive Health and HIV Research at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. "The results are phenomenal."
The association between circumcision and a reduced risk of HIV was noted as early as 1987, when Dr. William Cameron of the University of Manitoba in Canada reported findings from a study in Kenya. Some researchers in early studies have said they think cells in the foreskin may be particularly susceptible to infection.