Sexual behavior among army recruits in Piura, Peru
C. Terrones1, A.M. Bayer1, S.M. Montano1, J.A. Galvez-Bucolinni1, K.A. Konda1, J.P. Caballero-Nunez2, M.V. Villaran1, D.L. Blazes1, A. Vega-Castaneda3, T.J. Kochel1, A.G. Lescano1,4
1U.S. Naval Medical Research Center Detachment (NMRCD), Lima, Peru, 2Grau Military Base, Inclan Artillery Group, Piura, Peru, 3Peruvian Armed Forces and Police Committee for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS (COPRECOS - PERU), Lima, Peru, 4Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH), Lima, Peru
Background: High risk sexual behavior is the main factor within the military associated with HIV/AIDS transmission. Understanding which behaviors increase military risk potential is mandatory to design effective prevention programs suitable for this population.
Methods: Recruits from the Peruvian Army's Voluntary Military Service Troops stationed in a military base in Piura, Peru, answered a survey that assessed their sexual behaviors and their knowledge about HIV/AIDS. The survey was administered anonymously by a civilian physician to recruits programmed to receive Hepatitis B vaccination. No military personnel were present when recruits were answering the survey. Although recruits in Peru are male and female, only males answered this survey because only males are stationed in this military base.
Results: A total of 115 recruits answered the survey, all were males, young (19.5 ± 2.1 years old); and most of them were single (97%). Over 9 in 10 (92%) were sexually active, with a young age of sexual debut (15.9 ± 2.4 years old). Almost one quarter (21%) reported their last sexual partner was non-stable; and only half (51%) used a condom during last sexual intercourse. Over half (53%) reported having at least one sexual encounter with a sex worker; but only 5% reported ever had sex with another male. At least one quarter (27%) did not know that HIV transmission was by blood, vaginal secretions and semen.
Conclusions: Peruvian recruits are at a particularly high risk for acquiring STIs and HIV/AIDS because they are predominantly male, young, and single; they are mostly sexually active, tend to have casual partners; and unprotected sex. Poor knowledge about STIs and HIV/AIDS was also identified among this population. This information highlights the need to develop educational programs on sexual health and condom promotion amongst Peruvian military.
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