HIV/AIDS and Militaries in Africa

Militaries in Africa represent a unique demographic group because they are a captive audience for instruction and education. The hierarchical nature of military institutions also provides a unique environment for transferring values and standards of behaviour from senior officers to younger serving members. Furthermore, militaries are part of broader communities and their behaviour sometimes has a direct impact on values within society. HIV/AIDS programmes in African militaries present a unique opportunity to halt the epidemic within a key sector of society. Since soldiers can be champions of safer sex and can carry HIV prevention messages to local populations, HIV/AIDS programmes in the defence sector can also have a ripple effect on societies across Africa. Building on the leveraging of the military to improve policy responses to HIV/AIDS, African actors and institutions should base good practice on collaboration across all sectors and strata of society. Such cooperation should involve consultation and information-sharing with militaries and their families, local
communities, the private sector, and civil society.