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Possible circumcision-HIV prevalence explanation

Circumcision, which substantially lowers HIV risk in men, also dramatically changes the bacterial communities of the penis, according to a study led by scientists at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Johns Hopkins University and published Jan. 6 in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

And these bacterial changes may also be associated with earlier observations that women whose male partners are circumcised are less likely to develop bacterial vaginosis, an imbalance between good and harmful bacteria.

The study - The Effects of Circumcision on the Penis Microbiome - could lead to new non-surgical HIV preventative strategies for the estimated 70 percent of men worldwide (more than 2 billion) who, because of religious or cultural beliefs, or logistic or financial barriers, are not likely to become circumcised.

"It has important public-health ramifications," said Dr. Lance B. Price, Director of TGen's Center for Metagenomics and Human Health and co-lead author of the scientific paper, which describes the world's first molecular assessment of the bacterial diversity of the male reproductive organ.
 
 

Comments (2)

  1. See http://phylogenomics.blogspot.com/2010/01/plosone-paper-keywords-revealing-penis.html for a discussion of why the connection between this study and HIV is weak and see how the lead scientist of the study is working to get the press release changed to be more accurate
  2. Thanks Jonathan. I appreciate it when scientists publicly comment on news stories like this to help frame the information accurately and within context of the data. Try this link as the one above is broken to read Jonathan's blog post about it.

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