Danish Study Deflates Widespread Circumcision Myth
© AP Photo / Dita AlangkaraCircumcision
© AP Photo / Dita Alangkara
The comprehensive Danish study on sexually-transmitted infections is based on 800,000 men and spans nearly four decades.
Whereas millions of infants and children are circumcised in various parts of the world in hope that this reduces the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases, groundbreaking research from the Danish State Serum Institute (SSI) has found that the belief is incorrect.
The SSI research, based on data from over 800,000 Danish men born between 1977 and 2003, saw no greater or lesser chance of HIV infection for circumcised men, but a higher risk of other STDs.
“We registered a 53 percent increased risk for circumcised people to contract an STD, and the risk was particularly enhanced in relation to genital warts and syphilis,” Morten Frisch, a co-author of the research, said in a statement.
The background for the Danish study is the current development of circumcision in Africa. Based on previous studies from Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, which suggested a 50% reduced relative risk of HIV among circumcised young adult men, millions of teenage boys in Africa have been non-ritually circumcised in the past decades. In recent years, more African countries have expanded their circumcision programmes to include infants and young boys.
“The assumption has been that if circumcision in adulthood reduced a man’s risk of getting HIV and other STDs, it probably also will in relation to circumcision early in life. The problem is that the assumption has never been scientifically proven,” Frisch said.
7 September 2020, 11:13 GMT
The new Danish study is in line with international ones. Before, only two smaller cohort studies in the research literature, both from New Zealand, had investigated the importance of boy circumcision and failed to convincingly suggest that boy circumcision protects against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. A registry-based cohort study from Canada, just published in the Journal of Urology, has found no protective effect of boy circumcision against HIV as well.