Objectives To determine whether the current HIV prevalence in militaries of low-income and middle-income countries is higher, the same, or lower than the HIV prevalence in the adult male population of those countries.
Methods HIV prevalence data from low-income and middle-income countries’ military men were systematically reviewed during 2000–2012 from peer reviewed journals, clearing-house databases and the internet. Standardised data abstraction forms were used to collect information on HIV prevalence, military branch and sample size. Random effects meta-analyses were completed with the Mantel-Haenszel method comparing HIV prevalence among military populations with other men in each country.
Results 2214 studies were retrieved, of which 18 studies representing nearly 150 000 military men across 11 countries and 4 regions were included. Military male HIV prevalence across the studies ranged from 0.06% (n=22 666) in India to 13.8% (n=2733) in Tanzania with a pooled prevalence of 1.1% (n=147 591). HIV prevalence in male military populations in sub-Saharan Africa was significantly higher when compared with reproductive age (15–49 years) adult men (OR: 2.8, 95% CI 1.01 to 7.81). HIV prevalence in longer-serving male military populations compared with reproductive age adult men was significantly higher (OR: 2.68, 95% CI 1.65 to 4.35).
Conclusions Our data reveals that across the different settings, the burden of HIV among militaries may be higher or lower than the civilian male populations. In this study, male military populations in sub-Saharan Africa, low-income countries and longer-serving men have significantly higher HIV prevalence. Given the national security implications of the increased burden of HIV, interventions targeting military personnel in these populations should be scaled up where appropriate.
- INFECTIOUS DISEASES
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