Male circumcision: Africa and beyond?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Male circumcision has become an important component of HIV prevention strategies in Africa. Results of recent trials have renewed interest in this ancient procedure and its potential application in the reduction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). With renewed interest comes controversy, which has always been a close companion to circumcision.

Recent findings

Following the three randomized trials in Africa demonstrating the protective effects of male circumcision on HIV infection, studies have reported other benefits of circumcision including protection from certain STIs, including human papillomavirus and herpes simplex virus 2. With data accumulating on the public health benefits of circumcision and the endorsement of circumcision from WHO, investigators have begun to evaluate the feasibility, safety and cost of implementation of large-scale circumcision programs. Limitations of circumcision have also been explored.

Summary

Male circumcision will likely play an important role in HIV/STI prevention programs in Africa; the inclusion of circumcision in the health policy of developed countries will require further investigation.

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