Saturday, December 22, 2007

Scientists lauded for report on circumcision and HIV

LINDSEY WIEBE, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, December 20

Time magazine has named a groundbreaking discovery on HIV/AIDS prevention - spearheaded in part by University of Manitoba researchers - as the top medical breakthrough of the year.

Two studies, one in Kisumu, Kenya, and another in Rakai, Uganda, followed thousands of HIV-negative men over a number of years to determine what effect circumcision would have on the spread of the virus.

The studies were funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

However, the trials were halted last December after early data showed high levels of success, with circumcised men about 50 per cent less likely to get infected. The results were published in the medical journal The Lancet this year.

"It's nice that the issue has got this kind of recognition in the popular press," said Stephen Moses, reached by phone in Bangalore, India.

The University of Manitoba researcher was the co-principal investigator in Kenya, and said the notion that circumcision can protect against HIV transmission has been accepted in the scientific community, and increasingly in the world health community.

The effect of circumcision is related in part to a group of cells found on the foreskin that are more likely to contract HIV, and the fact that the foreskin is more susceptible to tearing during sex.