A new analysis of existing research indicates that the claimed effect of circumcision lowering the risk of HIV infection among gay men remains unclear, adding to confusion on the issue.

A number of studies in Africa have shown that circumcision offers significant protection among heterosexual men when it comes to contracting the HI virus but few similar studies have been done among gay men.

A US report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association now says there is inconclusive evidence to show that circumcision reduces the risk of infection among men who have sex with men (MSM).

An assessment of 15 studies by Gregorio A. Millett and his colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that the risk difference of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) between circumcised and uncircumcised gay men was ‘nonsignificant’.

The researchers noted however that, “Additional studies are necessary to elucidate further the relationship between circumcision status and HIV infection or STIs among MSM.”

Last month an Australian study concluded that circumcision can help protect gay men from HIV infection; but only those who take the penetrative role in anal sex.

Those researchers noted that the effect would not make much difference to HIV infection rates among gay men as a whole because active partners are less likely to be infected anyway while circumcision has no effect on passive partners.

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