AIDS 2014An analysis of a study of heterosexual mixed-HIV status couples found that male circumcision reduced syphilis incidence by 42 percent in men and by 59 percent in their female partners, aidsmap reports. Researchers analyzed data from the Partners PrEP study of serodiscordant couples in Africa, which included 2,946 couples in which the female has HIV and 1,751 in which the male is living with the virus. They presented their findings at the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia.

Research has found that circumcision lowers the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by about 60 percent. There has been a widespread push across sub-Saharan Africa in recent years to circumcise males in order to curb the HIV epidemic. Study results have begun to come in showing that such efforts have been successful in lowering HIV incidence.

The couples were followed for a median 2.75 years. When they began the study, 1,575 (53 percent) of the HIV-negative males and 560 (32.4 percent) of the HIV-positive males were circumcised. A total of 58 (10.2 percent) HIV-positive and 117 (8.5 percent) HIV-negative men were circumcised during the study follow-up period.

During the study, participants were diagnosed with 221 new cases of syphilis, 99 of which were among women and 122 among men. Circumcised men experienced a 42 percent reduction in syphilis incidence when compared with uncircumcised men. When examining the figures based on HIV status, the researchers found that HIV-positive men experienced a 62 percent risk reduction and the HIV-negative men had a 36 percent risk reduction. The risk reduction for the HIV-negative men, however, was not statistically significant, meaning it could have occurred by chance.

Women with circumcised partners were 59 percent less likely to contract syphilis than those who had uncircumcised partners. When the analysis is divided by status, the HIV-negative women experienced a 75 percent risk reduction and the HIV-positive women experienced a 48 percent risk reduction. In this case the HIV-positive women’s risk reduction was not statistically significant.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the conference abstract, click here.

To read a POZ feature article on efforts to fight HIV through male circumcision, click here.