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Background and Objectives: Whether male circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection remains controversial.

Study Design: As there have now been a number of studies conducted that have examined this issue, we undertook to review their findings. Thirty epidemiological studies identified in the literature that investigated the association between male circumcision status and risk for HIV infection were reviewed.

Results: Eighteen cross-sectional studies from six countries reported a statistically significant association, four studies from four countries found a trend toward an association. Four studies from two countries found no association. Two prospective studies reported significant associations, as did two ecological studies. In studies in which significant associations were demonstrated, measures of increased risk ranged from 1.5 to 8.4. The groups in which positive associations were found included sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic and hospital patients, outpatient clinic and HIV screening clinic attenders, long-distance truck drivers, and general community members.

Conclusion: Potential sources of error, assessment of causality, implications of the findings, and future research needs are discussed. Because a substantial body of evidence links noncir-cumcision in men with risk for HIV infection, consideration should be given to male circumcision as an intervention to reduce HIV transmission.

(C) Copyright 1994 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association