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Can penile circumcision affect the risk of genital warts or other sexually transmitted infections caused by viruses?

Penile circumcision can have a potential impact on the risk of certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) caused by viruses, including genital warts and herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection. However, the relationship between circumcision and these specific viral infections is complex and can vary based on multiple factors. Here’s what to consider:

1. Genital Warts (Caused by Human Papillomavirus – HPV):

  • Some research suggests that circumcision might be associated with a lower risk of genital warts in men and their female partners. HPV is a virus that can cause genital warts and is also linked to various cancers.
  • Circumcision removes the foreskin, which might reduce the surface area of vulnerable tissue and potentially lower the risk of HPV transmission.

2. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Infection:

  • Circumcision might have a limited impact on the risk of HSV infection. HSV infection can cause genital herpes, which can be transmitted through sexual contact.
  • Circumcision does not eliminate the risk of HSV transmission, as the virus can still be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

3. Other Viral Infections:

  • Circumcision might have a more limited impact on the risk of other viral STIs, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B and C. The relationship between circumcision and these infections is more complex and varies based on factors such as sexual practices and regional prevalence.

4. Comprehensive Prevention: Circumcision, if considered, should be viewed as one element of a comprehensive strategy to reduce the risk of viral STIs. Other preventive measures, such as safe sex practices (including condom use), vaccination (e.g., HPV vaccine), and regular STI testing, are also important.

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