Military Reverses Course on HIV+ People Serving Overseas
This past year, the United States hosted the 19th International AIDS Conference for the first time since 1990. Although the United States has established itself as a global leader in HIV/AIDS research and funding, it wasn’t until 2010 that the government lifted the entry ban on HIV positive people wishing to travel to America, thereby making the International AIDS Conference possible in this country. Before then, the United States stood out as one of only a handful of countries worldwide that barred people living with HIV from visiting or immigrating to the country.
However, the U.S. military continues its own form of a travel ban. Military policy prohibits HIV-positive service members from being stationed outside the United States. But on Aug. 13 the Pentagon quietly released a revision to the Department of the Navy policy, which now allows HIV-positive Sailors to be stationed at U.S. military installations outside of the country and on select large ship platforms. The policy change, listed under Secretary of the Navy Instruction (SECNAVINST) 5300.30E, is intended to “reflect current knowledge” of HIV and marks the biggest change in military HIV policy since the late 1980s when mass testing for HIV went into effect. Though the update removes logistical barriers to service, it does nothing to dissolve the space for discrimination which falls under commanders’ discretion. As long as the policy allows good Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines to be subjected to the prejudices of their superiors, our mission of equality in the military will be unaccomplished