Association Between HIV and Subpreputial Penile Wetness in Uncircumcised Men in South Africa

Pasteur Suite, Ealing Hospital, and Infectious & Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (Impact Factor: 4.56). 09/2006; 43(1):69-77. DOI: 10.1097/01.qai.0000225014.61192.98
Source: PubMed


To describe the prevalence and characteristics of subpreputial penile wetness and to investigate the association between current levels of penile wetness and HIV infection.
Male attenders at a sexually transmitted infections clinic in Durban, South Africa were enrolled and treated for their presenting sexually transmitted infection complaint. They were asked to return after 14 days when a structured questionnaire was administered, and the degree of wetness of the glans penis and coronal sulcus was assessed clinically.
Six hundred and fifty men were enrolled, and 488 (75%) returned. Three hundred eighty-six uncircumcised men were included for statistical analysis of whom 215 (56%) were HIV positive. One hundred ninety-six (50.8%) had no penile wetness, and 190 (49.2%) had penile wetness. In the adjusted analysis, penile wetness was associated with younger age, low level of attained education, low income, higher lifetime numbers of sexual partners, and not washing after sex. The prevalence of HIV was greater in those with penile wetness 126 of 190 (66.3%) compared with 90 of 196 (45.9%) with no penile wetness, crude prevalence odds ratio 2.32 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.54-3.50, P=or<0.001), crude prevalence relative risk 1.44 (95% CI, 1.23-1.63, P=or<0.001), and adjusted for predictors of HIV, confounders and herpes type 2 antibodies, odds ratio 2.38 (95% CI, 1.42-3.97, P=or<0.001), and relative risk 1.46 (95% CI, 1.19-1.68, P=or<0.001).
This is the first study to show an association between subpreputial penile wetness and HIV. Consideration should be given to providing advice about improving penile hygiene in uncircumcised men in areas where HIV is a significant problem. Good penile hygiene should also be promoted at the community level to become a desirable social norm.

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    • "Circumcision provides partial protection against many STIs, but the reasons for this remain unclear. We reasoned that the foreskin fold creates two different environments for the genital skin: one represented by the inner foreskin, which can be humid [15] and capable of harboring anaerobic bacteria [45]; another represented by the outer foreskin which is exposed to air. In comparing these two regions, we found differences in the inflammatory milieu of inner versus outer foreskin, as well as epithelial modifications that could affect permeability and thus susceptibility to infection. "
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    ABSTRACT: Male circumcision provides partial protection against multiple sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, but the mechanisms are not fully understood. To examine potential vulnerabilities in foreskin epithelial structure, we used Wilcoxon paired tests adjusted using the false discovery rate method to compare inner and outer foreskin samples from 20 healthy, sexually active Peruvian males who have sex with males or transgender females, ages 21-29, at elevated risk of HIV infection. No evidence of epithelial microtrauma was identified, as assessed by keratinocyte activation, fibronectin deposition, or parakeratosis. However, multiple suprabasal tight junction differences were identified: 1) inner foreskin stratum corneum was thinner than outer (p = 0.035); 2) claudin 1 had extended membrane-bound localization throughout inner epidermis stratum spinosum (p = 0.035); 3) membrane-bound claudin 4 was absent from inner foreskin stratum granulosum (p = 0.035); and 4) occludin had increased membrane deposition in inner foreskin stratum granulosum (p = 0.042) versus outer. Together, this suggests subclinical inflammation and paracellular transport modifications to the inner foreskin. A setting of inflammation was further supported by inner foreskin epithelial explant cultures secreting higher levels of GM-CSF (p = 0.029), IP-10 (p = 0.035) and RANTES (p = 0.022) than outer foreskin, and also containing an increased density of CCR5+ and CD4+ CCR5+ cells (p = 0.022). Inner foreskin dermis also secreted more RANTES than outer (p = 0.036), and had increased density of CCR5+ cells (p = 0.022). In conclusion, subclinical changes to the inner foreskin of sexually active males may support an inflammatory state, with availability of target cells for HIV infection and modifications to epidermal barriers, potentially explaining the benefits of circumcision for STI prevention.
    PLoS ONE 09/2014; 9(9):e108954. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0108954 · 3.23 Impact Factor
    • "Neither of these age categories were included in this study. Our finding that foreskin length and subpreputial wetness were not associated with the presence of pathogens suggests that if these two qualities are in fact associated with HIV infection,[51718] the mechanism may not be mediated by bacterial pathogens. The presence of smegma, however, was independently associated with gram-positive pathogens in this study. "
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    ABSTRACT: The biological mechanism of circumcision as potentiating HIV prevention is poorly understood. Foreskin microbiota has been postulated as having a potential role; however, little is known about the relationship between bacterial pathogens and circumcision in adults. We sampled the coronal sulcus of a diverse group of circumcised and uncircumcised men (n=315) from a government chest hospital and fertility clinic in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. Genital examination was conducted on three groups of men: Group 1 - HIV infected; Group 2 - TB infected; Group 3 - control. Aerobic and anaerobic specimens were cultured according to standard clinical protocols, and results were analyzed following multivariate logistic regression models. Three hundred fifteen study participants - 47.6% of Group 1, 36.5% of Group 2, and 15.9% of Group 3 - were enrolled in the study and included in all analyses. Overall 37.1% of the participants were circumcised without variation across groups (P=0.29). Smegma was observed in 18.7% of the participants with no cases observed in Group 3 (P<0.001). Gram-negative pathogens were more prevalent among study participants in Group 1 (22.7%) and Group 2 (30.4%) as compared with those in Group 3 (6.0%) (P=0.003). In multivariate regression analysis, controlling for group, age, and presence of smegma, uncircumcised men were more likely to be colonized with gram positives [Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) 1.9; P<0.05)], gram negatives (AOR 2.4; P<0.05), or any pathogen (AOR 2.8; P<0.005). Uncircumcised men in this population in South India are more likely to harbor bacterial pathogens in the coronal sulcus than do their circumcised counterparts. Future studies should examine the relationship between foreskin microbiota and HIV transmission.
    Journal of global infectious diseases 03/2012; 4(1):6-9. DOI:10.4103/0974-777X.93750
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    ABSTRACT: In 2005, 4.1 million people were infected with HIV. There is an urgent need to intensify and expand HIV prevention methods. Male circumcision is one of several potential approaches. This review summarizes recent evidence for the potential of male circumcision to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The first randomized controlled trial of adult male circumcision found a highly significant 60% reduction in HIV incidence among men in the intervention arm. Modelling this effect predicts that widespread implementation of male circumcision could avert 2 million HIV infections over the next decade in sub-Saharan Africa. The biological rationale is that the foreskin increases risk of HIV infection due to the high density of HIV target cells and lack of keratinization of the inner mucosal surface. There is strong evidence that male circumcision reduces risk of HIV, syphilis and chancroid. If results are confirmed by two ongoing trials in sub-Saharan Africa, provision of safe male circumcision could be added to HIV prevention packages in high-incidence settings. This would also provide an opportunity for HIV-prevention education and counselling to young men at high risk of infection.
    Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases 03/2007; 20(1):66-72. DOI:10.1097/QCO.0b013e328011ab73 · 5.01 Impact Factor
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