OBJECTIVES--To determine the sexual risk behaviour and the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) among Dutch marines and naval personnel during a United Nations (UN) deployment. METHODS--Surveillance by post deployment questionnaire, administered to 2289 persons in three successive battalions who served for 6 months on a UN deployment in Cambodia during June 1992-November 1993. On site the medical history of all individuals was kept up to date in a database. All personnel received extra education on STD prevention prior to deployment. Condoms were freely obtainable during deployment. RESULTS--1885 persons (82%) handed in the questionnaire of whom 842 (45%) reported to have had sexual contacts with prostitutes or local population. Being younger and single were independent risk factors for having contact. Out of these 842 persons, 750 (89.1%) reported condom use at all times, while 82 (9.7%) reported inconsistent use and 10 persons (1.2%) reported not to have used condoms. Risk factors for inconsistent and non use were being 40 years or older and a higher number of contacts. From the 832 (750 + 82) condom users, 248 (30%) reported condom failure. Risk factors for failure were: inconsistent condom use, having had more than six contacts and being in the second battalion. The patient recording database showed 43 STD cases registered in the total population of 2289 persons (1.9%). CONCLUSIONS--A low STD incidence was found despite a considerable number of reported sexual contacts. The reported condom use was high but the failure rate was considerable and needs further attention.
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