Study Suggests Why Circumcised Men Less Likely To Become Infected With HIV

A PLoS One study published Tuesday sheds new light on why men who have been circumcised are less likely to become infected with HIV, ANI/Times of India reports (1/6).

Pooling data from “three randomized-control trials in sub-Saharan Africa, where the circumcision rate is relatively low and the HIV infection rate is relatively high,” the researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Johns Hopkins University found “for the first time that circumcision significantly changes the bacterial community of the penis,” according to a TGen press release. The study concluded that the reduction in such bacteria following circumcision ”’may play a role in protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases,'” according to the release.

The results of the study “could lead to new non-surgical HIV preventative strategies for the estimated 70 percent of men worldwide (more than 2 billion) who, because of religious or cultural beliefs, or logistic or financial barriers, are not likely to become circumcised,” the press release adds (1/5).

“The next step is to really start to refine our understanding of what are the specific bacteria … that are changing and can those bacteria be associated with HIV,” explained co-author Lance Price, director of TGen’s Center for Metagenomics and Human Health, reports. “A better understanding of the biological basis for why circumcision results in changes to bacteria could lead to ‘alternative strategies’ for disease prevention, Price said,” the news source writes (Johnson, 1/6).

“This new study is part of a larger effort by the U.S. National Institutes of Health to study and describe the “human microbiome” — the microbes that exist collectively on and in the human body. Other projects are focused on microbiomes involving the skin, nose, mouth, digestive and female genitourinary tract. Jointly, the goal of these projects is to define the various roles of microbes in human health and disease,” according to the TGen press release (1/6).

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