Wednesday, April 14, 2010

HPV Last Longer in Uncircumcised Males

The evidence keeps adding up for all males to shed that disease-entrapping foreskin as soon after birth as possible. This latest study comes from the May 2010 edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, as reported by Reuters Health news service today.

The good news for the uncircumcised, according to this study at least, is that they are no more likely to acquire human papillomavirus (HPV) than their clean-cut counterparts. But -- and here's the bad news for foreskin lovers -- it takes the uncircumcised a whole lot longer to get rid of HPV than circumcised dudes. The study found that clean-cut males can shed HPV in 91 days, compared to 154 days in uncircumcised males. The researchers concluded, "Circumcision may protect against HPV‐associated disease by enhancing the resolution of infection."

Here's the Reuters story:

Sex virus lasts longer in uncircumcised men
Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:27pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - While uncircumcised men don't seem to be at higher risk of acquiring human papillomavirus (HPV), it takes them longer to clear the virus from their bodies, new research shows. Because HPV causes genital warts and certain cancers, the finding, say researchers, could help explain why uncircumcised men have a higher risk of such penile cancers.

It could also play a role in how likely their partners are to develop infections.

"Our study demonstrates that the apparent protective influence of circumcision against genital HPV infection may not involve a reduction in new infections but rather the enhanced ability to resolve existing HPV infections," Dr. Brenda Y. Hernandez of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii in Honolulu and her colleagues write.

But why this might be, and whether circumcision would be a good way to help prevent the spread of HPV-related disease, remains unclear, according to the researchers.

Some HPV strains cause cervical cancer in women, and are the targets of the vaccines Cervarix and Gardasil. Some strains may also be associated with penile cancer in men.

There's evidence that circumcision lowers a man's likelihood of developing cancer of the penis and contracting HPV infection, as well as HIV infection, in some populations. Because partners of uncircumcised men face a higher risk of cervical cancer, it's possible that circumcision could affect the spread of the virus as well, Hernandez and her team note.

The researchers had previously found that circumcised men were less likely than their uncircumcised peers to be infected with HPV at a given point in time. To determine if circumcision might influence a man's risk of acquiring HPV infection, as well as how readily he could clear the virus from his body, the researchers followed 357 men for an average of about 14 months. Every two months, the men, 290 of whom were circumcised, underwent HPV testing.

During the study, the researchers identified 536 different HPV infections, with no difference in risk between the circumcised and uncircumcised men. However, the researchers did find that HPV infections of the head, or glans, of the penis lasted 154 days, on average, in the uncircumcised men, compared to 91 days in the men who were circumcised. The increased duration was seen for both cancer-associated and non-cancer-associated HPV strains.

Cancer of the penis most commonly develops in the glans, Hernandez and her team point out, and the fact that infection with cancer-related strains lasted longer in uncircumcised men "has clinical significance."

It's possible, they add, "that transmission of HPV to sex partners is more efficient among circumcised men because of the greater duration of their infection." However, they add, "whether circumcision is an effective means of facilitating HPV clearance has yet to be demonstrated."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

South Africa to Circumcise Two Million Men

This amazing headline -- "South Africa to Circumcise Two Million Men" -- must drive the anti-circumcision fanatics crazy. After all, their goal is to keep the foreskin just where it is, thank you, free to infect the sad guy (or his partner) unfortunate to have one with STDs, HIV, and other diseases, to say nothing of his bad genital odor.

But this headline was prominent this past week as the South African government in one of its provinces committed to increase the health of its nation through the removal of that useless piece of ugly skin that has caused so much harm over the years.

Circumcising two million men sounds daunting, and would have never been necessary had routine neonatal circumcision been practiced throughout South Africa. It is so much better to snip a baby than to subject an adult male to a healthy circumcision. But it may take a generation or two before South Africa joins America in leaving the foreskin behind at the maternity hospital.

In the meantime, congrats to South Africa for setting an ambitious goal. You have a lot of fans in the USA rooting you on.

Here's the whole newspaper article:

"South Africa to circumcise two million men

Durban: In an effort to combat the scourge of HIV and Aids, over two million men will be circumcised in South Africa's eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, BuaNews reported on Friday.
The premier of KwaZulu-Natal province, Zweli Mkhize, said on Thursday this initiative had received overwhelming support from HIV activists and the medical fraternity.

The process will begin on April 11.

In late 2006, two randomised controlled trials on whether male circumcision reduces HIV transmission were halted because interim results showed an overwhelming protective effect, validating the results from an earlier South African trial conducted in Orange Farm.

Based on the weight of the evidence from both observational studies and randomised trials, public health leaders have concluded that male circumcision when performed by well-trained and well-equipped health professionals can significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection among adult men.

"We now have our task cut out for us to circumcise over two million males using the safety of professional techniques and encourage HIV pre-testing," he said.