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An unexplored area is what else the churches advocated or required beside circumcision.Since the church circumcisions occur on the eighth day after birth, it seems likely they model themselves on Judaism: what other Jewish practices do they advocate, and what effect could those have on HIV acquisition?That's pathetically few to be drawing any statistical conclusions from, and then only of correlation, not causation.Were any of these men circumcised for religious reasons?This study - unlike others - found no effect of age of circumcision on HIV acquistion, even if the circumcision took place after sexual activity began and after HIV was prevalent.This suggests that circumcision itself is not the key factor.The circumcised men were more likely to be married and to have more than one wife, less likely to have ever been with a sex worker, or with more than three sex workers.
David Templeton from the National Center for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research in Sydney.
They tend to have two things in common - flawed work, and a passage near the end saying "Therefore, universal male circumcision should be considered as a preventive measure against HIV infection" or words to that effect. The latest study (2006) is the most careful so far to avoid the mistakes of its predecessors, but it still falls far short of justifying mass circumcision campagns of men in Africa, let alone Routine Infant Circumcision.
It claims to have found a less protective effect than the one before it. Islam allows polygamy, which makes extramarital sex less likely, just by exhaustion, and encourages female seclusion, which of course makes HIV transmission less likely.
That one study, confined to Christians in Kenya, compared men belonging to churches that encouraged circumcision with those that discouraged it.
It used physical examination to determine circumcision status, and confined itself to churches that had similar views on polygamy and widow inheritance (of their late husbands' brothers as second husbands).
With those precautions, the correlation between circumcision status and HIV acquisition fell to 1.5 (20% of circumcised men had HIV, vs 30% of intact).