Armed Forces make major changes to end HIV being a barrier to service

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A number of changes that will make it easier for people with HIV to pursue a career in the Armed Forces have been announced on World AIDS Day.

From today, people who do not have HIV but who are taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to protect against potential infection will now be able to join and serve in the Armed Forces with no restrictions.

Urgent work is also underway to allow candidates with HIV, but on treatment and whose blood tests show no detectable virus, to join the Armed Forces.

At the same time, serving personnel who have been diagnosed with HIV will continue to be supported to access suppressive treatment, and will be recognised as fully fit for operations when there is no detectable virus in their blood tests.

The announcements, made in recognition of World AIDS Day, are part of Defence’s ongoing commitment to recognise advances in management of the treatment and prevention of HIV and to ensure the Armed Forces become a more modern and inclusive employer – lifting all barriers possible to ensure everyone who seeks to serve can do so.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said:

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. I’m delighted that an exciting and fulfilling career in the armed forces is now open to many more people.

Under existing policy, people with HIV are not able to join the Armed Forces, and anyone who is diagnosed with the virus while serving are no longer deemed ‘fully fit’ and are unable to deploy on certain operations. Changes to this policy for those with HIV are expected to be implemented from Spring 2022.

  • The Armed Forces have committed to ensure that being HIV positive is no longer a barrier to entry for candidates wishing to serve in uniform.
  • Candidates taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to prevent HIV infection can now join the Armed Forces with immediate effect.
  • Serving personnel who are HIV positive can also be recognised as fully fit, in changes planned to come into effect early next year.
  • The changes recognise that HIV can now be easily managed to ensure the safety of both the individual and their colleagues.

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