Jun 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Pentagon eases restrictions on HIV-positive military members

The Pentagon seal in the Pentagon Briefing Room in Arlington, Virginia.

The Pentagon seal in the Pentagon Briefing Room in Arlington, Virginia. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Pentagon will no longer automatically ban people who are HIV-positive from joining the US military.

Driving the news: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo the military updated its HIV policies due to "significant advances in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of" HIV as the impetus for the policy change.

  • The new policy that took effect Monday says military members who are HIV-positive, asymptomatic or who have a confirmed but undetectable viral load can still be deployed and remain in service.
  • These military members cannot be discharged or separated from service based on their HIV-positive status, either.

The big picture: The memo reverses a previous policy that allowed commanders to separate troops with HIV and prevent them from deploying.

  • A federal court decision ruled the Department of Defense's policies were unlawful, CNN reports.

By the numbers: The Congressional Research Service found in 2019 that 350 service members were diagnosed with HIV every year.

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