Rates of a number of sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea, are rising rapidly in the US military. According to the US Military Health System, the increase is among both male and female service members. STIs cost the US Navy $5.4 million in healthcare in 2012.
“From a military standpoint, STIs can have a significant impact on individual readiness, which in turn impacts unit readiness, which then leads to a decrease in force health protection,” commented Major Dianne Frankel, an Air Force internal medicine physician and USU preventive medicine resident. She pointed to a rise in high risk sexual behaviours, such as sex without a condom or more than one sexual partner as a potential cause. The 2015 DoD Health-Related Behaviors Survey showed this to have doubled since 2012.
Another possible reason is the use of dating apps leading to anonymous sexual encounters. “STIs place a significant economic strain on the U.S. and military healthcare systems,” Frankel said.