- Military personnel diagnosed with HIV positive will be considered completely fit
- He was previously barred from frontline service for drug use
- According to defense sources, the changes were based on scientific advances
- Minister of Defense People and Veterans Leo Docherty said he was ‘happy’
Britain’s armed forces are recruiting HIV positive soldiers for the first time in their history.
Announced on the occasion of World AIDS Day, military personnel receiving an HIV positive diagnosis will now be considered fully fit.
Previously he was barred from frontline service due to concerns about access to the drug.
Defense sources said the changes were based on scientific advances and were part of the defense ministry’s drive to become a “modern and inclusive employer”.
Being HIV positive or taking preventive treatment for the disease will no longer be a hindrance to serving in the armed forces, the Defense Ministry has announced. Image: File photo of soldiers on patrol
Last night the Minister for Defense People and Veterans Leo Docherty said: ‘It is only right that we recognize and act on the latest scientific evidence.
‘I am glad that an exciting and satisfying career in the Armed Forces is now open to many more.’
While in the UK, these soldiers will be treated like other personnel, such as asthmatics who require medication.
The ban on asthma patients joining the UK Armed Forces was lifted in January 2020 to boost recruitment.
The landmark decision follows a protracted battle in the United States where campaigners have argued that preventing HIV-positive people from enrolling is discriminatory.
The ban remains in place in the US.
The issue hasn’t been as high profile in Britain, so last night’s announcement shocked many military insiders.
Minister of Defense People and Veterans Leo Docherty said: ‘I am delighted that an exciting and fulfilling career in the Armed Forces is now open to many more’
After lengthy research into the issue, UK defense officials are confident that technological advances mean affected individuals can play important roles in the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.
The health status of HIV-positive soldiers will be monitored more closely while serving overseas.
Also, for legal reasons, they can be prevented from being deployed in countries that deny visas to HIV victims.