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close this bookAIDS and the Military (Best Practice - Points of View) (UNAIDS, 1998, 8 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentFacts and Figures
Open this folder and view contentsAre military and civilian populations really that different when it comes to AIDS?
View the documentAre there especially vulnerable groups within the military?
Open this folder and view contentsWhat impact can HIV/AIDS have on the military?
Open this folder and view contentsWhat concrete actions should be taken?
Open this folder and view contentsWhy don’t they just make all personnel take an HIV test?

Are there especially vulnerable groups within the military?

Young, unattached men are a highly susceptible group both inside and outside the military. Typically, the young recruit on a weekend pass has both the time and motivation, particularly under the influence of peer pressure, to indulge in high-risk behaviour. However, there are other groups within the military whose vulnerability should be addressed.

The increasing participation of women in the military in various parts of the world underlines the special vulnerability of women to STD and HIV transmission. Women are more likely to acquire any kind of STD from a single sexual exposure than men, and to have more asymp-tomatic STDs that are difficult to diagnose. (For more information, see UNAIDS Point of View “Reducing women’s vulnerability to HIV infection”.) Female military personnel are often at a disadvantage in sexual negotiations, including those for condom use. They are also subject to sex under duress and sometimes to outright rape.

The fact that in the military there are men who have sex with men is a sensitive issue in many countries. Some sexual contacts occur between men who identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual. In some cases there is coerced sex (rape) among men. Finally, men who identify themselves as heterosexual may experiment with male-to-male sexual activity (for example, during periods of isolation from female companionship). Little research has been done on this, but recent studies suggest that such activity may be more widespread than generally assumed. (See UNAIDS Technical Update and Point of View on “AIDS and men who have sex with men”.)

UNAIDS Best Practice Collection

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is preparing materials on subjects of relevance to HIV infection and AIDS, the causes and consequences of the epidemic, and best practices in AIDS prevention, care and support. A Best Practice Collection on any one subject typically includes a short publication for journalists and community leaders (Point of View); a technical summary of the issues, challenges and solutions (Technical Update); case studies from around the world (Best Practice Case Studies); a set of presentation graphics; and a listing of key materials (reports, articles, books, audiovisuals, etc.) on the subject. These documents are updated as necessary.

Technical Updates and Points of View are being published in English, French, Russian and Spanish. Single copies of Best Practice publications are available free from UNAIDS Information Centres. To find the closest one, visit UNAIDS on the Internet (http://, contact UNAIDS by email ( or telephone (+41 22 791 4651), or write to the UNAIDS Information Centre, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland.

Journalists seeking more information about a UNAIDS Point of View are invited to contact the UNAIDS Geneva Press Information Office (tel: +41 22 791 4577 or 791 3387; fax: +41 22 791 4898; e-mail:

The female condom and AIDS: UNAIDS Point of View (UNAIDS Best Practice Collection: Point of View).

Geneva: UNAIDS, April 1998.

1. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome - transmission
2. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome - prevention and control
3. Military Medicine

WC 503.71

© Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS 1998. All rights reserved. This publication may be freely reviewed, quoted, reproduced or translated, in part or in full, provided the source is acknowledged. It may not be sold or used in conjunction with commercial purposes without prior written approval from UNAIDS (contact: UNAIDS Information Centre, Geneva - see above). The views expressed in documents by named authors are solely the responsibility of those authors. The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this work does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNAIDS concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers and boundaries. The mention of specific companies or of certain manufacturers’ products do not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by UNAIDS in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned. Errors and omissions excepted, the names of proprietary products are distinguished by initial capital letters.