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The report by Harbertson et al1 in this journal addresses sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexual behaviours in US Service Members. The authors documented STIs as a current problem in shipboard personnel and highlighted evolving military sexual networks that must be evaluated and understood if STI prevention and control programmes are to be effective.1 During 2012–2014, Harbertson et al collected questionnaire data on 2453 members of the US Navy and Marine Corps who were deployed on ships to describe them demographically, define their risk behaviours for STIs and ascertain their STI histories. Their results revealed a population with an average age of 26 years, with 10% reporting a history of an STI sometime prior to deployment.1 The last time a similar shipboard questionnaire study of US Service Members was published was 1993.1 ,2 In the earlier study, Malone et al2 evaluated 1755 Sailors and Marines with a mean age of 23 years, and 22% reported ever having had an STI.
The Harbertson and Malone studies are similar in that both used questionnaires to assess STIs and risk factors for acquiring STIs in Service Members deployed on ships.1 ,2 The dissimilarities are striking and important. Malone studied only men; 21% of Harbertson’s group were women.1 ,2 (Deployment of women on US Navy combatant ships began in 1994.3) Harbertson noted that women now comprise ∼17% of shipboard crews.1 Malone's study focused on risk factors for STIs following the historical paradigm of a military consisting …
Contributors This work was conceived and written jointly by JCG, KTM Jr and DJF.
Competing interests The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies of Quintiles, Inc., the US Department of Defense, the Departments of the Army or Navy or the US Army Medical Department.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.