The objectives of this study were to describe the epidemiology of HIV in the United States Air Force (USAF) from 1996 through 2011 and to assess whether socio-demographic characteristics and service-related mobility, including military deployments, were associated with HIV infection.
We conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of USAF personnel who were HIV-infected during the study period January 1, 1996 through December 31, 2011 and a matched case-control study. Cases were USAF personnel newly-diagnosed with HIV during the study period. Five randomly-selected HIV-uninfected controls were matched to each case by age, length of service, sex, race, service, component, and HIV test collection date. Socio-demographic and service-related mobility factors and HIV diagnosis were assessed using conditional logistic regression.
During the study period, the USAF had 541 newly diagnosed HIV-infected cases. HIV incidence rate (per 100,000 person-years) among 473 active duty members was highest in 2007 (16.78), among black/ African-American USAF members (26.60) and those aged 25 to 29 years (10.84). In unadjusted analysis restricted to personnel on active duty, 10 characteristics were identified and considered for final multivariate analysis. Of these single (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 8.15, 95% confidence interval [CI] 5.71–11.6) or other marital status (aOR 4.60, 95% CI 2.72–7.75), communications/ intelligence (aOR 2.57, 95% CI 1.84–3.60) or healthcare (aOR 2.07, 95% CI 1.28–3.35) occupations, and having no deployment in the past 2 years before diagnosis (aOR 2.02, 95% CI 1.47–2.78) conferred higher odds of HIV infection in adjusted analysis.
The highest risk of HIV infection in the USAF was among young unmarried deployment-naïve males, especially those in higher risk occupation groups. In an era when worldwide military operations have increased, these analyses identified potential areas where targeted HIV prevention efforts may be beneficial in reducing HIV incidence in the USAF military population.