The UK’s Ministry of Defence announced Wednesday that it will permit people with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to join the armed forces if they no longer have a detectable amount of the virus.
The announcement came on World AIDS Day as part of the Defence Ministry’s continued efforts to recognise breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of HIV. Under its current policy, people living with HIV cannot join the Armed Forces, and those diagnosed with HIV while serving are no longer deemed “fully fit” to serve. According to the Ministry, the policy change will assist the armed forces in transforming into a more inclusive employer and help remove barriers to ensure that everyone who wishes to serve may do so.
The press release stated that starting immediately, those who do not have HIV but are taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to prevent infection may join and serve in the armed forces without restrictions. In addition, service members diagnosed with HIV will be re-recognised as “fully fit” once their HIV is undetectable. The Ministry said that changes to the current policy for people currently living with HIV are expected to take effect in Spring 2022.
The Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Leo Docherty, said, “drug treatment has revolutionised the lives and outcomes of people diagnosed with HIV.” He further added, “as a modern and inclusive employer, it is only right that we recognise and act on the latest scientific evidence. I’m delighted that an exciting and fulfilling career in the armed forces is now open to many more people.”