HIV/AIDS in Armed Forces

By Samantha Walters

What are the specific dangers for this population?

For example, a woman in Africa was raped by a man who was HIV positive and she did not know. Before she knew it, she was in labor and had her child. Herself and her child were both tested for HIV and came up positive. Her child was alone and got severely injured by some man with a gun. Luckily, a military man was around to help the child. The man did not have any gloves but was hesitant to help the dying child. Without any knowledge about the child’s health, he exposed his bare hands to the blood. Right at that moment, the soldier was HIV positive too.

How has the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS changed for this population over the past several years?

In the early 1980’s, HIV was identified as an infectious disease threat. Believe it or not, HIV infection rates are higher among members of the military compared with the general population. About 1.4 million active soldiers in the United States armed forces suggest that .15-.20 per 1,000 active duty men and woman have HIV.

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What behaviors put this population at risk for HIV/AIDS?

The armed forces recruit young men and women at a time of their greatest risk to HIV, in the 15 to 25 year age group where more than half of all new infections occurs. Many behaviors led to this population being at risk for HIV. HIV is highly mobile, so contraction is very possible in foreign countries. Some military men and even woman have chances to leave base and go to the bar or something. When they get this chance, they are surrounded by opportunities for casual sex. At these places, there are surprisingly many prostitutes, just wanting to give some pleasure and relaxation to a military man. Soldiers regularly have sex with prostitutes; about 45% of Dutch and navy marines in Cambodia has sex during their 5 months.

How could members of this population change their behaviors to avoid getting or spreading HIV/AIDS?

There are many things that members of the military could do. To avoid spreading HIV/AIDS, they could get condom education and distribution. Condoms are not the best option, but they sure help out. They also could improve or expand the HIV prevention education programs. This program includes counseling and great knowledge for soldiers who need more information about HIV or AIDS. In some countries, they do not have the treatment or medicine for this disease. What they could help with, would be expanding the STD treatments.