AIDS infections are about twice as common among men in the Navy and Marines as among men in other branches of the armed services, according to statistics released yesterday. Military doctors said this is probably because Navy bases are in parts of the country where AIDS is most common.
The report found that 2.2 of every 1,000 men in the Navy and Marines are infected with the AIDS virus. The rate is 1.1 in the Army and 1.2 in the Air Force. The infection rate for women in the military -- about 0.5 cases per 1,000 -- varies only slightly among the services.
The figures were presented at the AIDS conference by Dr. Donald S. Burke of the Walter Reed Army Institute.
So far, 1.6 million of the military's 2.2 million active-duty personnel have been tested for AIDS-virus infection. Experts have found that 2,522 military people, or 1.6 per 1,000, carry the virus.
Nearly 1 million recruits also have been tested before admission to the service, and their infection rate has been 1.5 per 1,000. Burke said that overall, the AIDS infection rate among recruits appears to be doubling every 10 years. But among blacks, it is doubling every three years.
Military doctors cautioned that their numbers may not reflect the level of AIDS infection among young Americans in general, because some people may not apply for service if they suspect they are infected.