HIV-2 and male circumcision

Lower historical rates of male circumcision were associated with higher HIV-2 prevalence in West African cities from 1985, a study published in the open-access journal PLoS One has found. The cities with higher male circumcision rates in 1950 tended to have lower HIV-2 prevalence when the first serosurveys were conducted in 1985-91. Cities in Guinea-Bissau and Côte d'Ivoire, which are thought to have been the epicenters for the emergence of HIV-2, had particularly low male circumcision rates. These results suggest that lack of male circumcision may have been a driving factor in the initial emergence of HIV-2, the authors write. They conclude that these findings “reinforce the public health rationale for encouraging voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) by showing that HIV-1 is not the only retrovirus whose spread may be thwarted or halted by VMMC” (ScienMag, 7 December 2016).