Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the principal cause of invasive cervical cancer. There is some evidence that male circumcision (MC) may protect against HPV infection and related disease in both men and women. The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the literature to assess the association between MC and genital HPV infection indicators including genital warts.
Methods: A systematic search of Medline was conducted to identify all relevant studies from February 1971 to August 2010. Effect estimates were included in random effects models.
Results: A total of 21 studies with 8046 circumcised and 6336 uncircumcised men were included in the meta-analysis. MC was associated with a statistically significant reduced odds of genital HPV prevalence (odds ratio = 0.57, 95% confidence interval: 0.42–0.77). This association was also observed for genital high-risk HPV prevalence in 2 randomized controlled trials (odds ratio = 0.67, 95% confidence interval: 0.54–0.82). No associations were found between MC and genital HPV acquisition of new infections, genital HPV clearance, or genital warts.
Conclusions: This meta-analysis shows a robust inverse association between MC and genital HPV prevalence in men. However, more studies are needed to adequately assess the effect of MC on the acquisition and clearance of HPV infections. MC could be considered as an additional one-time preventative intervention likely to reduce the burden of HPV-related diseases both in men and women, particularly among those countries in which HPV vaccination programs and cervical screening are not available.