Circumcised vs intact men living with HIV infection
[return to the first circumcision page]
If circumcision is a good way to slow HIV epidemics in Africa, then one would expect that country-by-country circumcised men would be less likely to be HIV-positive compared to intact men (ie, men with foreskins).
Surveys in 18 countries in Africa report the percentages of circumcised men and intact men who are HIV-positive by age (at least 7 countries had more than one survey; in such cases, I use data from the latest survey only). From these surveys, the table below shows the percentages of men aged 20 years and above who are HIV-positive (because many men are circumcised in their late teens, these calculations exclude teenagers).
Circumcised men are more likely to be HIV-positive compared to intact men in 8 of 18 countries, while the median (middle) ratio of the percentages of circumcised vs. intact men who are HIV-positive is 0.93.
From these data, circumcision seems to raise men’s risk for HIV in Benin, Cameroon, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe, but to lower their risk in 9 countries, including Kenya and Tanzania. Because that doesn’t make much sense, it’s reasonable to conclude that other factors have a much bigger influence on men’s risk to get HIV than whether they are circumcised or intact.
Table: HIV infections in circumcised and intact men (if you know any data we’ve missed, please bring it to our attention)
Sources: Demographic and Health Surveys and AIDS Information Surveys for each country available at: http://www.dhsprogram.com/Where-We-Work/Country-List.cfm (from this link, click on the country and then the survey, and to the chapter that reports HIV prevalence).