The United States military says that cases of sexually transmitted diseases including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have increased among the ranks of service members in the past eight years at a greater clip than in the civilian population.
The rate of infection for other STDs including genital HPV (human papillomavirus) and genital herpes decreased during the same period spanning 2012 until 2020.
The findings were published in the latest issue of the Pentagon’s Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, a peer-reviewed medical journal devoted to health-related issues in the military.
According to the findings, chlamydia was by far the most common STD in the armed forces followed by HPV, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and syphilis.
Women were more likely to contract all of the STDs with the exception of syphilis than men, according to the study.
The journal also found higher incidences of STDs among younger service members, African-Americans, and enlisted members.
Between 2012 and 2020, there were more chlamydia infections among active duty service members in the US military than the other four STDs combined.
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease among service members in the United States military, according to a recent study. Between 2013 and 2019, there was a 64 per cent increase in cases of chlamydia. The last year of the eight-year period recorded a decline
The rate at which service members were infected with gonorrhea was also disproportionately higher than the civilian population, the study found
Syphilis was the only STD that recorded a higher incidence rate among men than women in the military
There were also nearly four times as many cases of chlamydia as there were of genital HPV – the second most common STD.
What stood out in the study is the prevalence of STD infections among women compared to men.
The infection rates of chlamydia among women service members were generally three items the number compared to the men.
Between 2013 and 2019, there was a 64 per cent increase in cases of chlamydia. The last year of the eight-year period recorded a decline.
The increase among women is mostly attributed to service members under the age of 25.
In the eight-year period, the average rate of chlamydia infection was 192.4 cases per 10,000 people each year – nearly four times the rate of infection in the civilian population – 54 cases per 10,000 people.
Among men, annual rates of chlamydia increased consistently between 2013 and 2019 in all age groups and ethnicities under the age of 35 – with the exception of non-Hispanic whites.
The rate at which service members were infected with gonorrhea was also disproportionately higher than the civilian population.
There were also nearly four times as many cases of chlamydia as there were of genital HPV – the second most common STD
The rate of infection for other STDs including genital HPV (human papillomavirus) and genital herpes decreased during the same period spanning 2012 until 2020
In the eight-year period, the incidence rate of gonorrhea rose by 48.7 per cent, according to the study.
Between 2012 and 2018, there was a steady year-over-year increase. But rates of infection slightly fell in 2019 and 2020.
Overall, the average infection rate of gonorrhea in the military stood at 30.2 cases per 10,000 people over the course of the eight-year-period.
That is significantly higher than the rate of infection among civilians, which ranged from 10.7 to 17.9 between 2012 and 2018.
Incidents of syphilis also rose during the course of the eight-year study period.
By 2020, there were 5.2 cases per 10,000 people a year – or 2.2 times as many incidents of the disease as there were in 2012 (2.4 per 10,000 persons a year).
Unlike all other four STDs, men were more likely to be infected with syphilis, the study found.
Men contracted syphilis 1.3 times more on average than women, according to the study.
The study found that the highest incidence rates of gonorrhea among females were among younger people below the age of 24
Non-Hispanic black women under the age of 25 were more likely to contract chlamydia then those in other age and race groups, according to the study
Among men, non-Hispanic blacks under the age of 34 were more likely than other groups to contract chlamydia
Women between the ages of 30 and 34 were more likely to be infected with genital HPV, according to the study
Among men, the rates of genital HPV recorded a steady decline over the course of the eight-year period
Among men, those who are below the age of 24 reported the highest incidents of gonorrhea infections
US Army service members were more likely to contract chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital HSV infections
This finding is consistent with the civilian population, where men are more likely to be infected.
In the last two years of the study, rates of chlamydia and syphilis infections decreased among service members in both sexes.
According to the study, the higher incidence rates among women service members is likely due to ‘implementation of the services’ screening programs for STIs among female service members as they enter active service.’
‘Because asymptomatic infection with chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HPV is common among sexually active females, widespread screening may result in sustained high numbers of infections diagnosed among young females,’ according to the study.
The study’s authors noted that the increases were sharper in the earlier years.
The incidence of chlamydia decreased by 16 per cent between 2019 and 2020, and the incidence of gonorrhea remained relatively stable between 2019 and 2020.
The military believes that the drop in numbers of reported STDs in 2020 could be the results of the COVID-19 pandemic.
US Army service members were more likely to contract chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital HSV infections.
As for syphilis, overall rates of infection were highest among Navy enlistees.
The overall rate of genital HPV infections was highest among Air Force members.