AIDS and the Military - UNAIDS Point of View

Publications - Released in 1998

Military personnel are a population group at special risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV. In peace time, STD infection rates among armed forces are generally 2 to 5 times higher than in civilian populations; in time of conflict the difference can be 50 times higher or more. Paradoxically — and fortunately — strong traditions of organization and discipline give the military significant advantages if they move decisively against HIV/AIDS.

Recently, comparative studies of sexual behaviour in France, the UK and the USA showed that military personnel (both career and conscripted personnel) have a much higher risk of HIV infection than groups of equivalent age/sex in the civilian population. Armed forces in other parts of the world reflect the same phenomenon. A 1995 estimate of HIV in Zimbabwe, for instance, places the infection rate for the armed forces at 3 to 4 times higher than the level in the civilian population.



  • Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)