Circumcision and HIV

I’m a big fan of the Gates Foundation, they do a lot of fantastic research and are working to wipe out a lot of diseases that are prevalent in the third world, such as malaria. Plus, it was co-founded by Bill Gates, who I am a big admirer of.

However, one thing that has always bugged me is their pushing of woo in one particular area – using circumcision to prevent the transmission of HIV. They even have a page about it on their website.

It doesn’t work though. Or, at least, we should say that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that it does work. This was the finding of a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pooled analyses of available observational studies of MSM revealed insufficient evidence that male circumcision protects against HIV infection or other STIs.

Ok, fine, you could argue, but there are some studies that suggest otherwise. IE, if you cherry pick your studies and ignore the meta-analysis, you can get the result you want. But interestingly, there was a study in 2009 by Maria J Wawer, and here is what they concluded.

Circumcision of HIV-infected men did not reduce HIV transmission to female partners over 24 months; longer-term effects could not be assessed. Condom use after male circumcision is essential for HIV prevention.

Why is this study so key to the debate? Because of its funder – the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Their own study concluded that circumcision does not stop HIV. So why are they still pushing it?



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This entry was posted on Friday, August 17th, 2012 at 1:45 pm and is filed under Religion & Politics, Science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.