Vol 71, No 3 (2020)
Review article
Published online: 2020-09-28

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Sexually transmitted infections in seafarers: 2020’s perspectives based on a literature review from 2000–2020

Richard Pougnet12, Laurence Pougnet23, Jean-Dominique Dewitte12, Claire Rousseau3, Greta Gourrier12, David Lucas12, Brice Loddé12
Pubmed: 33001427
IMH 2020;71(3):166-173.


Background: Seafarers are a special population. The issue of sexually transmitted diseases among seafarers is as old as navigation itself, and is a public health issue and a matter of concern for seafarers themselves. The purpose of this article is to review the literature on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in professional seafarers in the 21st century, with a view to guiding maritime physicians in their practice.
Materials and methods: This is a Medline® and Scopus® literature review covering publications between 01/01/2000 and 31/12/2019. Out of the 224 articles, 26 were selected. Results: This review showed that at the beginning of the 21st century, attention has been focused mainly on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Few seroprevalence data were available. Between 10% and 91% of seafarers had been tested for STIs. Several risk behaviours were identified: out of 4022 seafarers surveyed, 34.3% said they had several sexual partners; out of 3722 seafarers surveyed, 19.5% engaged with sex workers; out of 3493 seafarers surveyed, 63.3% did not always use condoms, while 58.0% were aware of the relevance of this protection. There was a lot of misunderstanding about STIs: 28.3% of seafarers believed that a healthy-looking person could not be HIV-positive.
Conclusions: The main pathology studied was HIV. Many seafarers had no specific training and only learned about STIs and HIV through media such as television. Maritime doctors could use new technologies to disseminate the right information on STI prevention.

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