Sexually Transmitted Infections in the U.S. Military: A Sexual Health Paradigm to Address Risk Behaviors, Unintended Pregnancy, Alcohol Use, and Sexual Trauma

Cherrie B. Boyer*, Charlotte A. Gaydos, Amy B. Geller, Eric C. Garges, Sten H. Vermund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

To address the ongoing epidemic of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies) conducted a consensus study on STI control and prevention in the United States to provide recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Association of County and City Health Officials. The culminating report identified military personnel as one of the priority groups that require special consideration given the high prevalence of STIs and their associated behaviors (e.g., concurrent sexual partners and infrequent condom use) that occur during active duty service. Universal health care access, the relative ease and frequency of STI screening, and the educational opportunities within the military are all assets in STI control and prevention. The report offers a comprehensive framework on multiple and interrelated influences on STI risk, prevention, health care access, delivery, and treatment. It also provides an overview of the multilevel risk and protective factors associated with STIs that could be applied using a sexual health paradigm. The military context must integrate the multilevel domains of influences to guide the effort to fill current gaps and research needs. The Department of Defense, with its large clinical and preventive medicine workforce and its well-established universal health care system, is well positioned to enact changes to shift its current approach to STI prevention, treatment, and control. STI control based on highlighting behavioral, social, cultural, and environmental influences on service members’ sexual health and wellness may well drive better STI care and prevention outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-143
Number of pages4
JournalMilitary Medicine
Volume187
Issue number5-6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2022
Externally publishedYes

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