Ugandan Children, Courtesy, U.S. Agency for International Development
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University believe increasing circumcision rates may help reduce the risk of herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV).
Circumcision is already known to reduce HIV infections.
Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), researchers followed more than 5,500 men in Uganda and monitored their sexual activity for up to two years. Half of the men were circumcised, the other half were not.
They found herpes was reduced by 28 percent and HPV by one-third, among the circumcised men.
The protective effect is good news for both men and women.
"Men are at risk for genital warts and things like discharge. Women are at risk for cancer," said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, to ABC News. He is a co-author of the study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Why this happens is uncertain, but dampness may increase the chance of an HIV infection.
In the UK not everyone is convinced. BBC News reports that Dr. Colm O’Mahoney, a sexual health expert, says the U.S. has an obsession with circumcision as the answer to reduce sexually transmitted disease (STD).
He said: "Sure, a dry skinned penis is a bit less likely to contract HIV, herpes and possibly genital warts but it will get infected eventually." Dr. O’Mahoney says that the circumcision argument doesn’t address the use of condoms.
"And it allows men who don't want to change their irresponsible behaviour to continue to sleep around and not even use a condom."
Medicaid does not cover circumcision in 16 states. Private insurance increasingly is not as well.
The American Academy of Pediatrics considers circumcision a non-essential medical procedure with health benefits. Anywhere from one-third to two thirds of U.S. baby boys are circumcised depending on the region and ethnic background of the family. #