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The Navy Has the Highest HIV Rate of All the Branches of the Military

By November 7, 2009

In 2008, the United States Navy diagnosed 36 new cases of HIV after testing over 100,000 sailors. The number of new cases was double the infection rate in 1999. Navy officials are not sure why there was such a rise in the infection rate but do confirm that most of the new HIV infections were a result of unsafe sex practices not IV drug use. Unsafe sex is not unique to the Navy. Across all branches of the military, condom use runs about 50% according to the Pentagon. However, the Navy figures are more concerning. Among unmarried naval officers, condom use declined from 40% in 2002 to 30% in 2005, suggesting that the fear of HIV infection is not what it was ten years ago. And it doesn't seem like women sailors are any more fearful. Their condom use has declined at a rate similar to male sailors. Currently, the Navy estimates it has 560 of its sailors in HIV care with an annual cost between $7 million and $20 million.

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