A comparison of the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among circumcised and uncircumcised adult males in Rustenburg, South Africa: a cross-sectional study
Abstract Background South Africa has a persistent burden of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Male circumcision has been shown to be effective in preventing HIV and STIs, but data are scarce on the protective effect of circumcision in high-risk populations such as migrant miners. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of medical and traditional circumcision on the prevalence of STIs after adjusting for other risk factors in Rustenburg, a mining town in North West Province, South Africa. Methods This cross-sectional study used baseline data collected from a cohort study. Adult males in a mining town were assessed for STIs (gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis) using syndromic assessment. Data on circumcision status and other risk factors for STI syndromes were collected using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. The following symptoms were assessed; penile discharge, painful urination, dyspareunia or penile sores. These symptoms indicate sexually transmitted infection in general since laboratory tests were not performed. Multivariable log binomial regression was used to assess the independent effect of circumcision on STI presence after adjusting for confounders. Results A total of 339 participants with a median age of 25 years (IQR 22–29) were included in the study, of whom 116 (34.2%) were circumcised. The overall STIs prevalence was 27.4% (95% CI 22.8 to 32.6%) and was lower in the circumcised participants compared with those who were uncircumcised (15.5% vs 33.6%, respectively, p < 0.001). Both medical (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.34–0.95, p = 0.030) and traditional circumcision (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.13–0.86, p = 0.022) were strongly associated with a lower risk of STIs after adjustment for employment and condom use. Conclusion In this high-risk population in a mining town in South Africa, with a relatively high prevalence of STIs, and where one third of males are circumcised, both medical and traditional circumcision appear to be protective against STIs.