MELBOURNE - A campaign to promote male circumcision to prevent Aids infection also indirectly benefits women by reducing their risk of contracting the HIV virus, according to a study presented at the world Aids forum Friday.
In a South African community where large numbers of men had been circumcised, women who only had sex with circumcised partners had a 15-per cent-lower risk of being infected by HIV compared with women who also had uncircumcised partners, it found.
"The risk reduction is small, but it is a start," said investigator Kevin Jean of France's National Agency for Aids Research (ANRS).
The study was presented on the final day of the 20th International Aids conference in Melbourne.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends voluntary circumcision as an option for men in 14 sub-Saharan countries struggling with high rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The guidelines -- which have triggered a multimillion-dollar programme -- are founded on evidence from three trials carried out in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda.
These concluded that circumcision resulted in a reduced HIV risk -- for men -- of between 50 and 60 per cent.
What has been fiercely debated, though, is the impact of male circumcision on women.