US judge stops Air Force from discharging two HIV positive airmen

A United States federal judge has halted the Air Force from discharging HIV positive service members.

Two men received notice days before Thanksgiving of their discharge status. The Pentagon discharged them based on the armed forces rules that service members living with HIV cannot be deployed outside the US unless they have a waiver.

The men are on antiretroviral treatments for HIV. Both their doctors and commanders declared them fit for duty.

Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN sued the Pentagon, calling this a discriminatory practice.

On Friday (15 February), District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema sided with the two airmen and issued a preliminary injunction. AP News first reported her ruling.

In her decision, she called the Air Force’s treatment of the men and other HIV positive personnel ‘irrational, inconsistent, and at variance with modern science’.

‘Deploy or Get Out’

In February 2018, Donald Trump’s Defense Department introduced the ‘Deploy or Get Out’ (DOGO) policy. This policy discharges all service members ‘who are non-deployable for 12-consecutive months’.

By default, the military considers HIV positive service members non-deployable.

At the time, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed an injunction to stop this policy.

As they explained, the policy created a ‘de facto prohibition against individuals with HIV’.

In their injunction, both organizations argued the policy is both discriminatory as well as the fact that one’s HIV status does not effect their military effectiveness.

This policy combined with the transgender military ban shows the Trump administration does not believe LGBTI people capable of serving.

See also

US politicians hit back against Trump’s trans military ban

LGBTIs respond to Trump’s State of Union pledge to end HIV transmission by 2030

70% of Americans believe trans people should be able to serve in the military

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Author: Anya Crittenton