Master's Culminating Experience
In the United States there is a significant gap between Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) rates of Caucasians and African Americans. This disparity is attributed to many causes including access to health care, socioeconomic status, and social dynamics. The objective of this research is to describe the racial demographics of STI infections in the Air Force and explore possible disparities based on military pay grades. The military enforces many of the recommendations on how to limit STI health disparities by offering easy access to free health care and mandatory regular checkups. Despite these policies, the data reveals significant disparities based on race and military rank. The Air Force Reportable Events Surveillance System (AFRESS) tracks medical events along with demographic information. In all, 22,000 records spanning January 1, 2007 to January 1, 2012 were collected from AFRESS and combined with demographic data obtained from the Air Force Personnel Center. Relative risk was calculated using population demographics from 2009. For African Americans compared to Caucasians there is a relative risk of 9.81 for Gonorrhea, 3.2 for Chlamydia, and 3.48 for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea combined. Despite having easy and free access to medical care and pay above the poverty level, African Americans still bear a disproportionate burden of STIs. The evidence describes disparities based on rank with enlisted ranks E-1 through E-5 experiencing an increased relative risk as compared to O-1s. Future studies must explore other possible causes for these disparities, assess confounding factors and develop programs to reduce racial health inequity.
Shea, D. R. (2013). Air Force Demographics of Sexually Transmitted Infections 2007 to 2012. Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.