NEWS24, South Africa, 18 July 2003.

The snip doesn't cut it

18/07/2003 20:36 - (SA)

Willemien Brüer

Cape Town - Researchers at the Medical Research Council have established that circumcision is not, as previously thought, a way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids among heterosexual men.

Some previous studies have indicated that circumcision could prevent the spread of the virus.

Dr Nandi Siegfried says: "It's not true, because men who have been circumcised can get HIV/Aids."

She formed part of a group who published an article about the subject in the highly-respected Cochrane Library database. Among her co-workers were associates of Cape Town, Oxford, Bristol, Liverpool and the British Medical Research Council.

Siegfried says studies now being undertaken have indicated that circumcision could prevent the spread of the disease to some degree, but until the research has been completed, "it may be irresponsible to say circumcision will be a fool-proof method."

The researchers have completed a review of 35 case studies using research methods developed by the international Cochrane collaboration database. It differs from previous reviews in that case studies from all over the world have been incorporated.

Siegfried is of the opinion that previous research was not always of a high standard, because some didn't make use of control groups.

A study is being undertaken among 1 750 Gauteng men who will be circumcised and a similar control group who will not be circumcised. The men will be tested at 3, 12 and 21 months for HIV/Aids and results will be compared afterwards.

Similar studies are now being done in Kenya and Uganda.

(File prepared 18 July 2003)