July-August 1994.

The association between lack of male circumcision and risk for HIV infection: a review of the epidemiological data

Moses, S., Plummer, F.A., Bradley, J.E., Ndinya-Achola, J.O., Nagelkerke, N.J., and Ronald, A.R.

Department of Community Health,
University of Nairobi, Kenya

CIRP NOTE: This is a meta-analysis in which the authors analyze and discuss their own earlier work. As such it may suffer from severe conflicts of interest and a lack of objectivity. This work appeared the same year as the independent meta-analysis by de Vincenzi and Mertens, who reached very different conclusions even though they analyzed much of the same data.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Whether male circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection remains controversial.

STUDY DESIGN: As there have now been a number of studies conducted that have examined this issue, we undertook to review their findings. Thirty epidemiological studies identified in the literature that investigated the association between male circumcision status and risk for HIV infection were reviewed.

RESULTS: Eighteen cross-sectional studies from six countries reported a statistically significant association, four studies from four countries found a trend toward an association. Four studies from two countries found no association. Two prospective studies reported significant associations, as did two ecological studies. In studies in which significant associations were demonstrated, measures of increased risk ranged from 1.5 to 8.4. The groups in which positive associations were found included sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic and hospital patients, outpatient clinic and HIV screening clinic attenders, long-distance truck drivers, and general community members.

CONCLUSION: Potential sources of error, assessment of causality, implications of the findings, and future research needs are discussed. Because a substantial body of evidence links noncircumcision in men with risk for HIV infection, consideration should be given to male circumcision as an intervention to reduce HIV transmission.

(File revised 2 December 2006)