Armed forces will recruit HIV-positive troops for the first time in history after lifting ban
- Military personnel with an HIV-positive diagnosis will be recognised as fully fit
- Previously they had been barred from frontline service over medication access
- The changes were based on scientific advances, according to defence sources
- Leo Docherty, minister for Defence People and Veterans, said he was ‘delighted’
Britain’s armed forces are to recruit HIV-positive troops for the first time in their history.
Announced to coincide with World Aids Day, military personnel who have received an HIV-positive diagnosis will now be recognised as fully fit.
Previously they had been barred from frontline service over concerns about access to medication.
Defence sources said the changes were based on scientific advances and were part of the Ministry of Defence’s drive to be a ‘modern and inclusive employer’.
Being HIV positive or taking preventative treatment for the disease will no longer be a barrier for serving in the armed forces, the Ministry of Defence has announced. Pictured: file photo of soldiers on patrol
Last night Leo Docherty, minister for Defence People and Veterans, said: ‘It is only right we recognise and act on the latest scientific evidence.
‘I’m delighted an exciting and fulfilling career in the armed forces is now open to many more people.’
While based in the UK, these troops will be treated like other personnel, such as asthmatics, who require medication.
A blanket ban on asthmatics joining Britain’s armed forces was lifted in January 2020 in a bid to boost recruitment.
The landmark decision follows a lengthy battle in the United States where campaigners have argued preventing HIV positive people from enlisting is discriminatory.
The ban remains in place in the US.
The issue has not been as high profile in the UK so last night’s announcement surprised many military insiders.
Leo Docherty, minister for Defence People and Veterans, said: ‘I’m delighted an exciting and fulfilling career in the armed forces is now open to many more people’
After lengthy research into the issue, UK defence officials are confident technological advances mean affected individuals can play important roles in the Army, Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.
The health status of HIV positive troops will be more closely monitored when serving overseas.
Also, for legal reasons, they may be prevented from deploying to countries which deny visas to HIV sufferers.
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