Men with a certain p*nis bacteria are 63% more likely to contract a potentially deadly virus.
Uncircumcised men who are harbouring certain strains of bacteria underneath their foreskin are more at risk of HIV.
But it’s not just the amount of penis bacteria that’s the problem, it’s the type of bacteria that increases lads’ risk of HIV transmission.
A new study, from a team at George Washington University, followed heterosexual Ugandan men for two years and scientists collected swabs from the mens’ penises to study the bacteria present.
The research revealed that men with higher levels of anaerobic bacteria were more likely to have contracted HIV.
In fact having 10 times more of this bacteria upped their risk by a whopping 54-63%.
While all men have bacteria on their penises, uncircumcised men have more because the foreskin gives it a place to grow.
Researchers said: “We found that uncircumcised men who became infected by HIV during a two-year clinical trial had higher levels of penile anaerobes than uncircumcised men who remained HIV negative.
“We also found that having higher levels of penile anaerobes was also associated with higher production of immune factors that recruit HIV target cells to the foreskin, suggesting that anaerobes may modify HIV risk by triggering inflammation.”
They continued: “These anaerobes are known to be shared by heterosexual partners and are associated with HIV risk in women.
“Therefore, penile anaerobes may be a sexually transmissible risk factor for HIV, and modifying the penile microbiome could potentially reduce HIV acquisition in both men and women.”
Researchers believe this study may explain why circumcision slashes your risk of contracting HIV.
It’s not exactly clear why certain penis bacteria raises the HIV risk, but study co-author Cindy Liu offered an opinion.
Cindy, a pathologist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., told Science News: “Specific bacteria might cause inflammatory response that would cause the immune cells to congregate in the penis, where they’re more likely to be exposed to the virus.”
It’s important to remember that practicing safe sex by using a condom remains the best way to protect against HIV and other STIs.