Exposé of fallacious claims that male circumcision will increase HIV infections in Africa


Submitted: 23 May 2011
Accepted: 6 July 2011
Published: 5 September 2011
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Despite over two decades of extensive research showing that male circumcision protects against heterosexual acquisition of HIV in men, and that includes findings from large randomized controlled trials leading to acceptance by the WHO/UNAIDS and the Cochrane Committee, opponents of circumcision continue to generate specious arguments to the contrary. In a recent issue of the Journal of Public Health in Africa, Van Howe and Storms claim that male circumcision will increase HIV infections in Africa. Here we review the statements they use in support of their thesis and show that there is no scientific basis to such an assertion. We also evaluate the statistics used and show that when these data are properly analyzed the results lead to a contrary conclusion affirming the major role of male circumcision in protecting against HIV infection in Africa. Researchers, policy makers and the wider community should rely on balanced scholarship when assessing scientific evidence. We trust that our assessment may help refute the claims by Van Howe and Storms, and provide reassurance on the importance of circumcision for HIV prevention.

Brian J. Morris, University of Sydney

Professor of Molecular Medical Sciences,

School of Medical Sciences and Bosch Institute

Ronald H. Gray, Johns Hopkins University
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Daniel T. Halperin, Harvard School of Public Health
Department of African-American Studies
Richard Wamai, Northeastern University Boston
Department of African-American Studies
Jeffrey D. Klausner, University of California
Divisions of AIDS & Infectious Diseases
Morris, B. J., Waskett, J. H., Gray, R. H., Halperin, D. T., Wamai, R., Auvert, B., & Klausner, J. D. (2011). Exposé of fallacious claims that male circumcision will increase HIV infections in Africa. Journal of Public Health in Africa, 2(2), e28. https://doi.org/10.4081/jphia.2011.e28

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