Circumcision is unlikely to be a feasible HIV prevention strategy for men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United Kingdom, according to a Scottish study. Previous studies conducted in Africa have shown that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV acquisition among heterosexual men by approximately 60 percent. Male circumcision is now recommended as an additional HIV prevention strategy, although mostly in Africa.

The study found no evidence linking circumcision with HIV or other sexually transmitted infections among MSM in Scotland. A total of 16 percent of MSM reported having been circumcised. HIV prevalence was similar among circumcised and uncircumcised men (4.2 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively).

Circumcision is most likely to protect against HIV for men practicing unprotected insertive anal intercourse; among the men in the study who reported unprotected anal intercourse, less than one-quarter exclusively favored the insertive role.

Lastly, only 11 percent of uncircumcised men reported willingness to take part in a HIV prevention research study on male circumcision.

The study recommended that behavior change should continue to be the focus of HIV prevention for MSM.

1. McDaid LM, Weiss HA, Hart GJ. Circumcision among men who have sex with men in Scotland: limited potential for HIV prevention. Sexually Transmitted Infections 2010; 86: 404-406. (open access)