July 20, 2011 (AFP) – Male circumcision, an operation being promoted in Africa to help prevent HIV infection, boosts men’s sexual pleasure, according to a study presented at the conference on AIDS medicine winding up in Rome on Wednesday.
The probe is one of a panoply into the medical and psychological impacts of the fast-growing circumcision campaign.
Researchers at the University of Makerere in Uganda interviewed 316 men, average age 22, who had been circumcised between February and September 2009.
A month after the operation, 82.3 percent said they were very satisfied with the operation and 17.7 percent said they were satisfied.
A year after the operation, 220 of the volunteers said they were sexually active, of whom a quarter said they used condoms.
A total of 87.7 percent said they found it easier to reach an orgasm after being circumcised, and 92.3 percent said they experienced more sexual pleasure.
Nine out of 10 said they were happy with how their penis looked — and more than 95.4 percent said they believed their partner was also satisfied with its appearance.
The data was presented by researchers in a poster session at the four-day conference in Rome on scientific and medical aspects of the world’s HIV/AIDS pandemic.
It updates previous findings that circumcised men found greater sexual enjoyment, thus easing one of the mental barriers to the campaign.
In 2006, trials in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa found foreskin removal more than halved men’s risk of infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Longer-term analysis found the benefit to be even greater than thought, with a risk reduction of around 60 percent.
After pondering the risks and benefits, health watchdogs set in motion circumcision campaigns in 13 sub-Saharan countries that have been badly hit by HIV.
Advocates call it “surgical vaccine,” describing it as a cheap, effective form of prevention.
Male circumcision does not reduce the risk for women who have intercourse with an HIV-infected man.
Women do get an indirect, statistical advantage, though. The fewer men who are infected with HIV, the lesser the risk to women.
In addition, the protective benefit of circumcision to male heterosexuals does not appear to extend to male homosexuals, research has found.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to two-thirds of the 33 million people living with HIV. As of mid-2010, around 175,000 circumcisions had been carried out in the 13 countries considered priorities, according to UNAIDS.
The theory behind the effectiveness of circumcision is that the inner foreskin is an easy entry point for HIV. It is rich in so-called Langerhans cells, tissue that the AIDS virus easily latches on to and penetrates.