Venereal Disease in the Armed Forces

January 9, 1943

Report Outline
Venereal Disease in Army and Navy
Measures for Suppression of Prostitution
Control of Venereal Disease Among Civilians
Special Focus

Venereal Disease in Army and Navy

Rise and Fall of Disease Rates in Armed Services

A sharp rise in the venereal disease rate in the armed forces of the United States, which began with their rapid expansion after the outbreak of the war in Europe, has now been brought under control. In 1939, when the Army numbered less than 200,000 enlisted men, the rate per 1000 men for all venareal diseases was only 29.6. The rate jumped to 40.6 per 1000 in 1940 and remained at 40.5 per 1000 through 1941. During the first six months of 1942, the latest period for which these figures are available, the venereal disease rate in the Army had fallen to 38.0 per 1000 men.

Corresponding figures for the Navy are not available, but venereal disease rates in the naval forces have probably followed the same course as those reported for the Army—at a much higher level. Because of what are described as “special conditions of service,” the venereal disease rate in the Navy has always been higher than in the land forces; during the five years preceding the present war it averaged more than twice as high.

Reports by the United States Public Health Service on the results of serologic blood tests given men called up for selective service indicate that prevalence of venereal disease in civil life is very much higher than in either the Army or the Navy. Of the first million men examined for the draft, 45,200 were found to be suffering from syphilis and were rejected on that ground. Of the second million men summoned, 50,200 suffered from syphilis.

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