September 4th, 2014
Researchers found out not too long ago that circumcision helps prevent men from contracting HIV. But the recently held AIDS conference found that it helps prevent transmission to women as well. The findings were presented at the conference in Melbourne. The study that uncovered this was conducted on an orange farm in South Africa. Circumcision wasn’t an indigenous part of the culture there. Women who had intercourse with men who were circumcised contracted HIV at half the rate, 18% compared to those who were uncircumcised. This new information, that circumcision reduces the transmission of HIV for both partners, is generating a program in the country to circumcise men and hopefully stem the epidemic which has ravaged the entire continent. The idea is that the foreskin contains a whole host of microbes which is a friendly environment to the AIDS virus. The foreskin itself can become a satchel then to deliver the virus to the woman and hide it so that it can creep inside the man. What’s more, the mucus layer protecting the glands from infection is thinner in those who are circumcised versus those who aren’t. Though it is a tradition in some cultures, it isn’t in others, though with this news that might be changing.
The scientists who are helping to roll out a circumcision program in South Africa were at first worried that the local population would not respond to it. They showed them that men who were circumcised had a lower infection rate than their uncircumcised counterparts. They also showed that in countries where circumcision was the norm, a lower prevalence of the disease existed. Three trials to date have been conducted all with the same conclusion; circumcision cuts the rate of HIV infection. The program included men and women in the community. With lots of communication, soon many circumcisions were being performed. The best way to prevent HIV/AIDS is limiting one’s number of partners and using condoms. Make sure to use them correctly or else protection can be decreased. For those in at-risk populations there is also a medication available called Truvada. It is also known as PrEP. When taken correctly it is highly effective against the contraction of HIV. The CDC recommends every adult get an HIV test at least once in their life. Those who are at-risk should have a test conducted at least once every six months. Most people who contract HIV have flu-like symptoms a week or two after transmission. Many however have no symptoms at all.