Defense Health Care:

Effects of AIDS in the Military

HRD-90-39: Published: Feb 26, 1990. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the Department of Defense's (DOD) actions to prevent and control the spread of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the military; (2) how AIDS has affected DOD operations and medical treatment facilities; and (3) DOD plans for dealing with increased incidence of AIDS.

GAO found that: (1) in October 1985, DOD developed a comprehensive approach for dealing with AIDS in the military, which included testing all active duty and reserve personnel and civilian applicants for military service, educating personnel about AIDS, and providing necessary health care to infected personnel; (2) as of August 1989, DOD had tested over 90 percent of its active duty personnel at least once, and planned to retest them periodically; (3) DOD provided various educational and counseling programs to help control the spread of AIDS, but failed to focus on modifying high-risk behaviors; (4) the prevalence of AIDS had a minimal impact on overall DOD operations, but a significant impact on military hospitals' provision of care to infected members; and (5) DOD had no plans to provide the resources needed to deal with the expected increase in demand for AIDS-related health care services.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The plans were provided in October 1990. GAO has accepted the plans as valid.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop plans for dealing with the increased demand for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-related care. Such plans should address the need for financial, staffing, and facility resources, including assessing which hospitals, based on staffing and bed capacity, could accommodate the projected work load.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The services have developed budget and staffing plans. These plans were provided to the DOD Inspector General (IG) in October 1990. GAO has accepted the plans as valid.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop plans for dealing with the increased demand for HIV-related care. Such plans should address the need for financial, staffing, and facility resources, including budgeting for treatment costs, especially prescription drugs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The services have prepared plans to address this recommendation. DOD Office of Health Affairs have certified that these plans are adequate. This action satisfies the recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should evaluate the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS education efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Education programs are reflecting this recommendation. The formal policy on education will be included in the new DOD directive on HIV policy. The directive has been issued.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should modify DOD human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS education programs to focus on changing high-risk behaviors.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The plans were provided in October 1990. GAO has accepted the plans as valid.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should develop plans for dealing with the increased demand for HIV-related care. Such plans should address the need for financial, staffing, and facility resources, including determining how DOD will meet needs for chronic care, since its hospitals are currently better suited to provide acute care.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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