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close this bookAIDS and the Military (Best Practice - Points of View) (UNAIDS, 1998, 8 p.)
close this folderAre military and civilian populations really that different when it comes to AIDS?
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOpportunities for risky behaviour
View the documentThe risk-taking ethos and other attitudinal factors
View the documentSeparation from accustomed community

Opportunities for risky behaviour

The number of sex partners that a person has is a key factor in the risk of STD infection, especially HIV. The chances of encountering someone with prior exposure to HIV go higher as the number of sex partners goes up. The risk is particularly high with partners who are “one-night stands” or sex workers when no condom is used.

Military personnel on deployment often indulge in risky activities. For example, a study of Dutch sailors and marines on peacekeeping duty in Cambodia found that 45% reported having sexual contact with sex workers or other members of the local population during a five-month tour. Another study indicated that 10% of US naval personnel and marines contracted a new STD during trips to South America, West Africa and the Mediterranean during 1989-91. War itself offers a particularly rich breeding ground for HIV infection. The mobilization of large numbers of young men (already a high-risk group for STDs), the practice of intimidation through rape, and displacement of refugees (a highly vulnerable group) - all these factors increase the virus’ prevalence. To make matters worse, war is often accompanied by the breakdown of health and educational infrastructures, crippling efforts to minimize the spread of HIV during or following conflict.