Two large clinical trials in East Africa show that being circumcised halves a man's risk of contracting HIV infection. The finding mirrors the results of a recent South African study (SN: 10/29/05, p. 275: Defense Mechanism: Circumcision averts some HIV infections).
Combined, the reports offer definitive evidence that circumcision confers strong—though not complete—protection against infection by the virus, says Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md.
The spotlight now moves to policy makers in Africa, some of whom are already investigating strategies to make safe circumcision available to men and boys who want the operation.
The fragile foreskin around the penis harbors immune cells that are easily infected with HIV (SN: 4/3/04, p. 212: Available to subscribers at Better-Off Circumcised? Foreskin may permit HIV entry, infection). After t