US Court Blocks Discharge of HIV-Positive Air Force Personnel


HIV-positive members

A US judge has this week issued a preliminary injunction to stop HIV-positive members of the US Air Force from getting discharged for their HIV status.

The ruling comes after two HIV-positive Air Force personnel challenged, anonymously for their protection, the Trump administration’s discriminatory “Deploy or Get Out Policy” that took effect in October last year.

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Just days before one of the complainants was going to be discharged, Judge Leonie Brinkema of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued the ruling, stating that the US government’s treatment of HIV-positive personnel is “irrational, inconsistent, and at variance with modern science.”

Despite passing fitness assessments and undergoing medical treatment, the plaintiffs received notification that their discharge appeal was rejected just days before Thanksgiving.

Under Trump’s policy, the service men were prevented from being deployed outside the United States without a waiver, thus classifying them as unfit to continue serving in the Air Force.

Representatives of the plaintiffs, Lambda Legal alongside OutServe-SLDN, consider the ruling as a victory for personnel living with HIV, allowing them to continue serving their country.

“This is a major victory in our fight to ensure everyone living with HIV can serve their country without discrimination,” Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal said.

“These decisions should be based on science, not stigma, as today’s ruling from the bench demonstrates.

“Despite President Trump’s promise to improve the lives of people living with HIV at the State of the Union this month, his administration continues to defend these policies and others discriminating against people most impacted by HIV.”

The Trump administration has also come under fire for its policy restricting trans people from serving in the US military, a policy that received a green light in a vote by the US Supreme Court late last month.

But a survey late last month also found an overwhelming 70% of Americans want transgender people to be allowed to serve.