Size Matters

Illustration for article titled Size Matters

But not how you'd think: Scientists have found that men with larger foreskins are at a higher risk for contracting HIV. Doctors are considering offering circumcision to men in Uganda to help combat the spread of the virus. [Reuters]


Share This Story

Get our newsletter


Freddie DeBoer

Education and funding for the use of circumcision to help slow the spread of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is something I support entirely. It's worth saying, however, that HIV and AIDS epidemiology in sub-Saharan Africa is entirely different from that of the rest of the world, because of certain realities in sub-Saharan Africa. (Namely, cultural sexual practices that greatly increase the risk of blood-to-blood contact through sexual intercourse, and the prevalence and social acceptance of ulcerative genital sores caused by other STIs.)

Circumcision doesn't help outside of sub-Saharan Africa, though, because those unique factors aren't found in other parts of the world. More importantly, circumcision has no effect on the spread of HIV in what are (still) the vast majority of transmissions: male-to-male sexual intercourse and the use of intravenous drugs. Circumcision further does not lessen the risk of male-to-female infection, only female-to-male. The procedure doesn't protect the people who are at risk in the developed world, and very likely protects the people in sub-Saharan Africa because of cultural and medical realities there that are not found anywhere else in the world. #circumcision