Circumcision does not protect men from common STDs

According to new research, though male circumcision protects men from HIV, it does not protect them against other common sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, genital warts and genital herpes.

The researchers from the University of Otago Dunedin School of Medicine, New Zealand, say while there is "compelling evidence" that male circumcision offers men a level of protection against HIV, but it is unclear whether the procedure lowers the risk of other types of STIs.

In a study involving 499 men born in 1972 and 1973, of whom 40% had been circumcised in early childhood, it was found that up to age 32, there were no statistically significant differences in rates of STIs other than HIV between the two groups even after adjustments were made for sexual behaviour and socioeconomic factors.

It was found that 23.4% and 23.5% of the circumcised and uncircumcised men, respectively, reported having had STIs, the most common of which were genital warts, chlamydia and genital herpes.

Another recent study from New Zealand found that circumcision appeared to halve the rate of STDs among men up to age 25; Dickson and his colleagues say that study was done in a smaller group of individuals with a lower rate of STDs than that reported in the current study and fewer men in that group had been circumcised.

Dr. Nigel P. Dickson who led the research says it appears unlikely that circumcision has a major protective effect against common STIs.

The research is published in the Journal of Pediatrics, March 2008.

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