How medical male circumcision reduces HIV/Aids risk

How medical male circumcision reduces HIV/Aids risk

JANE NAFULA

Three studies that were done in Uganda, Kenya and South African confirmed that Medical Male Circumcision reduces the risks of a man who is circumcised to acquire HIV virus from a woman or partner who is HIV positive by at least 60 percent. But many of us have been wondering how this works.

The Assistant Commissioner Health Services (National Disease Control) in the Ministry of Health , Dr Alex Opio explained that the inside part of the uncircumcised penis is rich in cells known as Langerhans cells which are normally targeted by the HIV virus.

The removal of the foreskin through medical circumcision, reduces on the number of these cells and the only place where they can be found in the meatus(opening of the penis)

Dr Apio also says the removal of the foreskin exposes the tip of the penis to the underwear and fresh air. When the tip of the penis is exposed, it becomes thicker than the one which is covered by the foreskin.

When it is thicker, it becomes less susceptible to bruises that a penis may sustain during sexual intercourse and ease the transmission of the virus. In medical language, the thickening of the penis is called Keratinization.

He further explains that when a man is not circumcised, a large surface area of the penis tends to be exposed to the vagina during sexual intercourse because the foreskin is over pulled back and incase the woman is infected, the chances of a man contracting HIV would be high because during sexual intercourse, the fiction between the vagina and the penis may create tiny tearing which can only be seen through a microscope thereby exposing the man to infection. However, the risks would be minimal if a man is circumcised since a smaller surface of the penis would be exposed to the vagina.

An uncircumcised man is also said to be more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases especially those that cause sores in the private parts (genital ulcers). Examples of such diseases include syphilis and Herpes Virus. The wounds ease the penetration of the virus into someone’s body. Dr Opio also explains that circumcision doesn’t prevent HIV transmission 100 per cent.

Other benefits of circumcision

* A circumcised penis is easier to clean and is normally free of smegma that may cause the cancer of the penis, says Dr Alex Opio. Smegma is a sticky white thick secretion that is accumulated under the foreskin of a penis of an uncircumcised man. Many older men, who have bladder or prostate gland problems, also develop difficulties with their foreskins due to their surgeon’s handling, cleaning and using instruments. Some of these patients will need circumcising. Afterwards it is often astonishing to find some who have never ever seen their glans (knob) exposed before.

* If man continues injecting smegma in a woman, her risks of her getting cancer of the cervix are increased, Dr Opio adds. Cancer of the cervix in women is due to the Human Papilloma Virus. It thrives under and on the foreskin from where it can be transmitted during intercourse. An article in the British Medical Journal in April 2002 suggested that at least 20 per cent of cancer of the cervix would be avoided if all men were circumcised.


* Lots of men, and their partners, prefer the appearance of their penis after circumcision, It is odour-free, it feels cleaner, and they enjoy better sex. Awareness of a good body image is a very important factor in building self confidence. Sexual function is not adversely affected by circumcision. On the contrary, published evidence shows that circumcised men have a wider variety of sexual activity, and women prefer circumcised men, mainly because of better genital hygiene.


* Balanitis is an unpleasant, often recurring, inflammation of the glans. It is quite common and can be prevented by circumcision.
* Urinary tract infections sometimes occur in babies and can be quite serious. Circumcision in infancy makes it 10 times less likely.

Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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