Objective: Male circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV acquisition among heterosexual men but the impact among men who have sex with men (MSM) is not known. In this paper, we explore the feasibility of research into circumcision for HIV prevention among MSM in Scotland.
Methods: Anonymous, self-complete questionnaires and Orasure oral fluid collection kits were distributed to men visiting the commercial gay scenes in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Results: 1508 men completed questionnaires (70.5% response rate) and 1277 provided oral fluid samples (59.7% response rate). Overall, 1405 men were eligible for inclusion in the analyses. 16.6% reported having been circumcised. HIV prevalence was similar among circumcised and uncircumcised men (4.2% and 4.6%, respectively). Although biologically, circumcision is most likely to protect against HIV for men practising unprotected insertive anal intercourse (UIAI), only 7.8% (91/1172) of uncircumcised men reported exclusive UIAI in the past 12 months. Relatively few men reported being willing to participate in a research study on circumcision and HIV prevention (13.9%), and only 11.3% of uncircumcised men did so.
Conclusion: The lack of association between circumcision and HIV status, low levels of exclusive UIAI, and low levels of willingness to take part in circumcision research studies suggest circumcision is unlikely to be a feasible HIV prevention strategy for MSM in the UK. Behaviour change should continue to be the focus of HIV prevention in this population.