Britain allows military recruitment of HIV-positive people


“As a modern and inclusive employer, it is only fitting that we recognize and act on the basis of the latest scientific evidence,” said Deputy Defense Minister Leo Docherty.

Military personnel infected with HIV in the British armed forces are classified as “not quite in good shape”, a categorization that the Defense Department is considering changing. (Reuters)

Britain plans to allow people who test positive for HIV to join the military if they no longer carry a detectable amount of the virus, its Defense Department has said.

Service members who become infected with HIV after enlistment may already remain in the military – although they are classified as not fully able, a categorization the ministry said it plans to change as well.

“Drug treatment has revolutionized the lives and outcomes of people diagnosed with HIV. As a modern and inclusive employer, it is right that we recognize and act on the basis of the latest scientific evidence,” the defense minister said on Wednesday. Leo Docherty.

The United States also currently prohibits people living with HIV from joining its military and has faced a legal challenge over its policy of not allowing enlisted HIV-positive personnel to become officers.

With the right treatment, the amount of virus in the blood of people infected with HIV can be reduced to undetectable levels, which in turn effectively eliminates the chances of them passing the virus that causes AIDS to others.

“Deployments to start next year”

From the start of next year, serving UK servicemen who have tested positive for HIV, but no longer carry a detectable viral load, will be classified as in good shape, meaning they can be deployed to military operations.

People taking medicines that reduce the risk of contracting HIV will also be able to join the armed forces. Historically, anyone taking medication regularly has not been able to join the British armed forces, with a few exceptions such as contraceptives.

The planned changes have been welcomed by the National AIDS Trust of Great Britain.

“A career in the military was the only career not open to people living with HIV in the UK, and with this much-needed change, the military will be better able to meet its obligation to promote inclusion in its ranks.” said Deborah Gold, the CEO of the trust.

Source: Reuters