UK

Archaic ban on people with HIV joining the military to finally be lifted, government says

Lily Wakefield December 1, 2021
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Soldiers march through London during the annual Lord Mayor's Show

Soldiers march through the city during the annual Lord Mayor's Show on 13 November, 2021, in London. (AFP via Getty/ DANIEL LEAL)

On World AIDS Day, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced that it will lift a ban on people living with HIV serving in the military.

The outdated ban was implemented in 1985, at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, and is still in place despite huge progress in treating and preventing the virus.

If a service member is diagnosed with HIV when they are already in the Armed Forces, they are no longer classed as “fully fit” and are unable to deploy to some operations.

Those who are taking medication to protect against the transmission of HIV, like PrEP, were also barred from service, as the military deems those taking regular medication a “logistical burden”, according to The Independent. 

But on Wednesday (1 December), the MoD said the ban on military personnel with HIV would be lifted by next year, and HIV-positive service members will no longer be barred from operations.

Medication like PrEP will be viewed in the same way as contraception and will not be a barrier to service.

Defence minister Leo Docherty said in a statement: “Drug treatment has revolutionised the lives and outcomes of people diagnosed with HIV.

“As a modern and inclusive employer, it is only right that we recognise and act on the latest scientific evidence.

More: AIDS, armed forces, HIV, Ministry of Defence, world aids day

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