Sometimes, The Science tells us having men circumcised is a decent way to fight HIV transmission. Sometimes The Science tells us it has no noticeable effect. But now The Science is telling us that removing a man’s foreskin lowers the risk of transmission of HPV — to women. You know, during that heterosexual intercourse thing. It’s a good thing to know, because HPV is that mean old STD that can lead to cervical cancer in women. But The Science has also established HPV can lead to anal cancer when transmitted among MSM. Does that mean circumcision can help reduce the risk of transmitting HPV among gay dudes?
The new study, from researchers at Johns Hopkins University, doesn’t say — because it focused only on women. But it found that over two years, the rate of HPV infection dropped by 28 percent among the female participants, whose circumcised male partners were HIV-negative circumcised. Except this study piggybacked on the same one in Uganda that showed circumcision cut the spread of HIV by a remarkable 50-60 percent — a phenomenon, to the best of my knowledge, researchers haven’t been able to duplicate in the U.S. or other Western countries.
Why does snipping off the foreskin show so much promise? Because the skin, located at the tip of the penis (and thus very involved in any form of sexual activity involving men), is rich in the type of immune cells regularly targeted by STDs like HPV and HIV. No foreskin, no vulnerable cells.
But if researchers found that circumcision reduces HPV transmission rates during male-female sexual activity, I can’t help but think it would do the same for male-male fun times too.