msnbc.com
updated 7/5/2005 3:24:34 PM ET 2005-07-05T19:24:34

Male circumcision reduces the risk that men will contract HIV through intercourse with infected women by about 70 percent, according to a study reported in The Wall Street Journal.

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After discovering the dramatic results, French and South African researchers halted the study about nine months in order to offer the uncircumcised men the opportunity to undergo the procedure, the newspaper reported.

The results of the study have not been published in a medical journal, although the French researcher who headed the team is expected to present them at an International AIDS Society conference in Brazil later this month.

The study was conducted on more than 3,000 HIV-negative South African men, ages 18 to 24. Half of the men were randomly selected to be circumcised while the other half remained uncircumcised.

After following the men for a year, the researchers found that for every 10 uncircumcised men in the study who became infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, only an estimated three circumcised men contracted the virus, the newspaperreported.

The study is considered significant because scientists have yet to discover an effective vaccine against the HIV virus or develop a reliable way to prevent infection other than through abstinence or safe-sex practices.

Previous studies have linked circumcision with increased HIV infection.

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