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HIV prevalence is strongly associated with geographical variations in male circumcision and foreskin cutting in Papua New Guinea: an ecological study
  1. David J MacLaren1,
  2. W John H McBride1,
  3. Gerard C Kelly2,
  4. Reinhold Muller3,4,
  5. Rachael Tommbe5,
  6. John M Kaldor6,
  7. Andrew J Vallely6,7
  1. 1College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Tropical Health Solutions Pty Ltd, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
  4. 4College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
  5. 5School of Health Science, Pacific Adventist University, Port Moresby, NCD, Papua New Guinea
  6. 6Public Health Intervention Research Group, The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  7. 7Sexual and Reproductive Health Unit, Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Goroka, Papua New Guinea
  1. Correspondence to Dr David MacLaren, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University (Cairns Campus), P.O. Box 6811, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia; david.maclaren{at}


Objective To examine the correlation between HIV prevalence and male circumcision and other foreskin cutting practices across the four regions of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Design An ecological substudy using unique data from an interdisciplinary research programme to evaluate the acceptability, sociocultural context and public health impact of male circumcision for HIV prevention in PNG.

Methods Published data describing (a) self-reported circumcision status by region from the ‘Acceptability and Feasibility of Male Circumcision for HIV prevention in PNG’ study and (b) HIV prevalence by region from PNG National Department of Health were used to correlate male circumcision and other foreskin cutting practices and HIV prevalence. Maps were constructed to visually represent variations across the four regions of PNG.

Results Regions of PNG with the highest HIV prevalence had the lowest prevalence of male circumcision and other forms of foreskin cutting and vice versa. Male circumcision and dorsal longitudinal cuts were strongly associated with HIV prevalence and able to explain 99% of the observed geographical variability in HIV prevalence in PNG (p<0.01).

Conclusions The regional prevalence of HIV infection in PNG appears to be closely correlated with the regional distribution of male circumcision and dorsal longitudinal foreskin cuts. Further research is warranted to investigate causality of this correlation as well as the potential of dorsal longitudinal cuts to confer protection against HIV acquisition in heterosexual men.

  • HIV

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