The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced an early end to two clinical trials of adult male circumcision because an interim review of trial data revealed that medically performed circumcision significantly reduces a man's risk of acquiring HIV through heterosexual intercourse. The trial in Kisumu, Kenya, of 2,784 HIV-negative men showed a 53 percent reduction of HIV acquisition in circumcised men relative to uncircumcised men, while a trial of 4,996 HIV-negative men in Rakai, Uganda, showed that HIV acquisition was reduced by 48 percent in circumcised men.
"These findings are of great interest to public health policy makers who are developing and implementing comprehensive HIV prevention programs,"says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "Male circumcision performed safely in a medical environment complements other HIV prevention strategies and could lessen the burden of HIV/AIDS, especially in countries in sub-Saharan Africa where, according to the 2006 estimates from UNAIDS, 2.8 million new infections occurred in a single year."
"Many studies have suggested that male circumcision plays a role in protecting against HIV acquisition," notes NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "We now have confirmation — from large, carefully controlled, randomized clinical trials — showing definitively that medically performed circumcision can significantly lower the risk of adult males contracting HIV through heterosexual intercourse. While the initial benefit will be fewer HIV infections in men, ultimately adult male circumcision could lead to fewer infections in women in those areas of the world where HIV is spread primarily through heterosexual intercourse."
Both trials involved adult, HIV-negative heterosexual male volunteers assigned at random to either intervention (circumcision performed by trained medical professionals in a clinic setting) or no intervention (no circumcision). All participants were extensively counseled in HIV prevention and risk reduction techniques.
Both trials reached their enrollment targets by September 2005 and were originally designed to continue follow-up until mid-2007. However, at the regularly scheduled meeting of the NIAID Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) on December 12, 2006, reviewers assessed the interim data and deemed medically performed circumcision safe and effective in reducing HIV acquisition in both trials. They therefore recommended the two studies be halted early. All men who were randomized into the non-intervention arms will now be offered circumcision.
Researchers have noted significant variations in HIV prevalence that seemed, at least in certain African and Asian countries, to be associated with levels of male circumcision in the community. In areas where circumcision is common, HIV prevalence tends to be lower; conversely, areas of higher HIV prevalence overlapped with regions where male circumcision is not commonly practiced.
NIAID News Office
Message posted by: Rashmi Nemade
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