Currently, the United States Armed Forces denies any HIV-positive service members from joining, as well as not deploying soldiers abroad or reassigning deployed soldiers back to the U.S. if the military finds them to have contracted HIV after enlisting.
However, a policy issued by the Department of Defense earlier this year poses a threat to non-deployed military personnel, including those non-deployable due to their HIV status.
The “deploy-or-be-removed” policy was made effective in February, and pressures military branches to administratively separate any service member unable to be deployed within 12 months. The military must also comply to the new policy by October 1.
The policy reasons that it intends to return non-deployable soldiers back to deployable status, and that waivers can be granted on an individual basis.
Whether an enlisted HIV-positive soldier will receive a waiver for deployment in light of other pre-existing policies regarding HIV status is still obscure, especially with two ongoing lawsuits against Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis still ongoing.
The current attitudes towards and possibility of discharge as a result of HIV status in the military has also been regarded as a measure to remove LGBT soldiers from serving in any branch.
Last year, the current presidential administration's “transgender ban” was met with similar cries of LGBT discrimination, but the ban was later blocked by federal judges.
However, transgender service members may also become subject to the same removal policy affecting HIV-positive soldiers as The New York Times reports many transgender recruits are still waiting to enlist since January.
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