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What does Dr. Jim Shelton’s recent pearl say about the benefits of male circumcision beyond protection against HIV transmission? #501/9

I know there is very solid evidence that male circumcision (MC) markedly reduces men’s risk of HIV, but does it reduce the risk of other STIs?

Yes, not only for the men but for their female partners also.  For example for men, evidence from but one of the recent male circumcision (MC) randomized trials found it reduced the risk of genital herpes (HSV-2) as well as human papillomavirus (HPV) the virus largely responsible for cervical and penile cancers.

For women, in addition to reduced exposure to HPV, the same study also found a decreased risk of genital ulceration, trichomonas and bacterial vaginosis.

Thus male circumcision has important reproductive health benefits for both men and their women partners beyond the reduced HIV risk for men.


Jim Shelton

Science Advisor, Bureau for Global Health



  1. Tobian AA et al. Male circumcision for the prevention of HSV-2 and HPV infections and syphilis. NEJm 2009; 360:1298-309.
  2. Gray RH et al. The effects of male circumcision on female partners’ genital tract symptoms and vaginal infections in a randomized trial in Rakai, Uganda. Am J OB Gyn 2009; 200(1):42.e1-7. Epub 2008 Oct 30


 Key Words: benefits, male circumcision, HIV, protection, transmission, Dr. Jim Shelton, Global Health Pearl, solid evidence, risk, STIs, female partners, genital herpes, HPV, cervical cancer, penile cancers, genital ulceration, trichomonas, bacterial vaginosis, reproductive health benefits

Posted 5-15-2009, Updated 5-31-2009, Updated 6-7-2009 

Robert A. Hatcher MD, MPH
Emeritus Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Emory University School of Medicine
Atlanta, GA

The directors and owners of this website and any publications and information concerning health matters offered here advise a person with a particular problem to consult a primary-care clinician or a specialist in obstetrics, gynecology, or urology (depending on the problem or the contraceptive) as well as the product package insert and other references before diagnosing, managing, or treating the problem.
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