Exposé of fallacious claims that male circumcision will increase HIV infections in Africa


  • Brian J. Morris University of Sydney
  • Jake H. Waskett Circumcision Independent Reference and Commentary Service
  • Ronald H. Gray Johns Hopkins University
  • Daniel T. Halperin Harvard School of Public Health
  • Richard Wamai Northeastern University Boston
  • Bertran Auvert INSERM-UVSQ
  • Jeffrey D. Klausner University of California




circumcision, HIV, epidemiology, evidence-based medicine


Despite over two decades of extensive research showing that male circumcision protects against heterosexual acquisition of HIV in men, and that includes findings from large randomized controlled trials leading to acceptance by the WHO/UNAIDS and the Cochrane Committee, opponents of circumcision continue to generate specious arguments to the contrary. In a recent issue of the Journal of Public Health in Africa, Van Howe and Storms claim that male circumcision will increase HIV infections in Africa. Here we review the statements they use in support of their thesis and show that there is no scientific basis to such an assertion. We also evaluate the statistics used and show that when these data are properly analyzed the results lead to a contrary conclusion affirming the major role of male circumcision in protecting against HIV infection in Africa. Researchers, policy makers and the wider community should rely on balanced scholarship when assessing scientific evidence. We trust that our assessment may help refute the claims by Van Howe and Storms, and provide reassurance on the importance of circumcision for HIV prevention.
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Author Biographies

Brian J. Morris, University of Sydney

Professor of Molecular Medical Sciences,

School of Medical Sciences and Bosch Institute

Ronald H. Gray, Johns Hopkins University

Bloomberg School of Public Health

Daniel T. Halperin, Harvard School of Public Health

Department of African-American Studies

Richard Wamai, Northeastern University Boston

Department of African-American Studies

Jeffrey D. Klausner, University of California

Divisions of AIDS & Infectious Diseases




How to Cite

Morris, B. J., Waskett, J. H., Gray, R. H., Halperin, D. T., Wamai, R., Auvert, B., & Klausner, J. D. (2011). Exposé of fallacious claims that male circumcision will increase HIV infections in Africa. Journal of Public Health in Africa, 2(2), e28. https://doi.org/10.4081/jphia.2011.e28



Original Articles