01/30/2013 10:23 am ET

STI Rate Higher Among Military Women Than Civilian Women, Study Shows

The rate of STIs among military women is higher than that in civilian women, according to a recent study in the Journal of Women's Health.

The study, conducted by researchers at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, shows that the STI rate is seven times higher among military women than civilian women.

The researchers also found that only about one in three unmarried military women who are sexually active used a condom during the last time they had sexual intercourse, and that nearly two in three of them had more than one sexual partner over the last year.

The findings are based on reviewing past research on STI rates among military members.

"These high-risk sexual practices likely contribute to chlamydia infection rates that are higher than the rates in the U.S. general population," the researchers wrote in the study.

"To address the reproductive health needs of military women, investigations into the prevalence of unsafe sexual behaviors and consequent infection among older servicewomen and women veterans are needed," they wrote. "Direct comparison of military and civilian women is needed to determine if servicewomen are a truly high-risk group."

According to the latest data on STIs in the United States, there were about 1.4 million cases of chlamydia, nearly 322,000 casse of gonorrhea, and 13,970 non-congenital cases of syphilis reported in the U.S. in 2011. Young people and gay and bisexual men are at the highest risk for STIs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.