A new study published by The American Society for Microbiology sheds some additional light on why circumcisions have been known to reduce men's odds of getting HIV.
Lance Price from Arizona’s Translational Genomics Research Institute and other scientists studied 156 Ugandan men, ages 15 to 49, for the purposes of their research. Half of the participants were circumcised, the other half were not.
Based on tests conducted, the men from the test group who got their foreskin removed had an 81 percent drop in bacteria found. As noted by the Los Angeles Times, researchers attributed this to the fact that “the bacterial species that inhabit the coronal sulcus, the shallow groove behind the head, or glans, of the penis.”
Over the past 20 years, numerous studies have indicated that men who get circumcised are about half as likely to contract HIV compared to men who are not. However, to date, no firm reasoning for this has been established. Researchers hope that these latest findings will open the door to understanding why there is such a significant dropoff in HIV risk between circumcised and uncircumcised men.
"From a public health perspective the findings are really interesting because some of these organisms that are decreasing could cause inflammation," Price said. "We're used to thinking about how disrupting the gut microbiome can make someone more susceptible to an infection. Now we think maybe this disturbance [in the penile microbiome] could be a good thing - could have a positive effect," Price said.
Price hopes this new research will open the door for more analysis into the treatment and prevention of STDs.