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Isr J Health Policy Res. 2015 Aug 13;4:40. doi: 10.1186/s13584-015-0034-7. eCollection 2015.

In developed countries male circumcision prevalence is inversely related to HIV prevalence.

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School of Medical Sciences and Bosch Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales Australia.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, California, USA.


A study by Chemtob and co-workers found significantly lower prevalence of HIV amongst heterosexual men and women in Israel compared with the Netherlands and France. Risk factors for heterosexual HIV infection in these countries were similar, apart from one, namely, a strikingly higher prevalence of male circumcision (MC) in Israel compared with the Netherlands and France. It is now well established that MC protects heterosexual men against becoming infected with HIV during sexual intercourse with an infected woman. In epidemic settings, such as countries in sub-Saharan Africa, in which heterosexual contact is the primary driver for HIV infection, MC is being implemented to reduce HIV prevalence. The results of the new study by Chemtob and co-workers support the evidence and recent polices in the United States advocating MC to reduce the spread of HIV. While prevalence in developed countries is generally low, it is rising. In the long term, neonatal MC is the most desirable option, since not only is it simpler, safer, cheaper and more convenient than MC later, it provides immediate protection from infections, penile inflammation, genital cancers and physical problems. It is also cost-effective. European countries have not supported MC for its public health benefits. The new findings add to calls for European and other countries with low MC prevalence to consider developing evidence-based policies favoring MC in order to reduce HIV and other infections and diseases and at the same time reduce suffering, mortality and the cost of treating these.


Circumcision; Europe; HIV; Israel; Male; Policy; Public health; Rate

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