British armed forces plan to allow people with HIV to join

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Dec 01, 2021, 04:31 PM IST

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at an event to thank the UK armed forces for their role in the Afghanistan evacuation operation earlier this year, in London, Britain, November 24, 2021 Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

The categorisation of HIV infected persons as not being fully fit in service of the British armed forces is also due to change

British defence ministry said that it is planning to allow HIV positive people to join British armed forces if they no longer carry detectable amount of the virus. Military persons who become infected after they get enlisted can already remain in the armed forces. However, they are categorised as being not fully fit. The ministry said that this categorisation has been planned to be changed.

"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," junior defence minister Leo Docherty said.

The United States also currently bans people with HIV from joining its armed forces, and has faced legal challenge over its policy not to allow enlisted personnel who are HIV positive to commission as 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 which causes AIDS on to others.

From early next year, serving British military personnel who have tested positive for HIV, but no longer carry a detectable viral load, will be classed as fully fit, meaning they can be deployed on military operations.

People taking drugs that reduce the risk of contracting HIV will also be able to join the armed forces. Historically anyone taking regular medication has been unable to join Britain's armed forces, with limited exceptions such as contraceptives.

The planned changes were welcomed by Britain's National AIDS Trust. "A career in the armed forces was the only career not open to people living with HIV in the UK, and with this much-needed change the military will be more able to meet its obligation to promote inclusivity within its ranks," said Deborah Gold, the trust's chief executive.

(With inputs from agencies)