Circumcision Cuts Down HPV Risk

Researchers have found one more good reason for male circumcision, and this one is for the ladies.  Authors of a study published Thursday in the Lancet medical journal said that the wives and girlfriends of circumcised men were found to have a 28 percent lower rate of infection with the human papilloma virus.  HPV is known to cause warts and cervical cancer in women, and the Center for Disease Control finds that almost 50 percent of sexually active people will contract the virus at some point in their lives.

Dr. Maria Wawer lead a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University who said they ''studied HIV-negative men and their female partners in Rakai, Uganda'' between 2003 and 2004.

''Our findings indicate that male circumcision should now be accepted as an efficacious intervention for reducing the prevalence and incidence of HPV infections in female partners,'' Wawer’s team wrote.

The researchers studied almost 1,000 women and after years found that 27.8 percent of the partners of circumcised men contracted HPV infections compared to 38.7 percent of the partners of uncircumcised men.

''Male circumcision has now been shown to decrease HIV, herpes simplex virus-2, and HPV infections and genital ulcer disease in men, and also HPV infection, trichomoniasis, and bacterial vaginosis and genital ulcer disease in their female partners,'' the researchers wrote.

Circumcision removes the penis’ foreskin reducing microbes, especially since the foreskin is rich in immune system cells targeted by viruses.

''However, protection is only partial; the promotion of safe sex practices is also important,'' the report reminds us.

                                Carma Hassan

Carma is a Peabody award-winning broadcast journalist in the Bay Area.