Court Halts Trump Administration’s Efforts To Discharge HIV Positive Airmen

U.S. Air Force Via Facebook

Two HIV positive airmen will remain in the United States Air Force, a three-judge panel ruled on Friday.

The panel of judges in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Air Force was operating under “irrational” and “outdated” policies. 

Lambda Legal, a national LGBT organization, declared the ruling a victory.

“Any understanding of HIV that could justify this ban is outmoded and at odds with current science,” Lambda Legal declared in a joint statement with the Modern Military Association of America. “Such obsolete understandings cannot justify a ban.”

The Department of Justice argued the Air Force determined the two airmen could no longer perform their duties because their career fields required them to deploy frequently. USAF reported their condition prevented the airmen from deploying to the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility, where most airmen are expected to go.

Attorneys for the airmen asked the Trump administration “for more clear answers” as to why the Department of Defense has imposed a deployment ban on HIV positive airmen to CENTCOM’s area of responsibility. 

In the lawsuit the airmen are identified pseudonymously as Richard Roe and Victor Voe. 

Roe said he was very pleased with the court’s decision which will “allow us to continue to serve the country we love.”

“I joined this lawsuit because I feared I would be discharged from the military, but also because of the lingering stigma and many misconceptions about what it is to live with HIV today,” Roe said. 

Medical treatment of HIV positive individuals has made great advancements, the plaintiffs argued. Modern science, the plaintiffs said, has shown with routine daily medications and regular blood testing the virus can be defeated. At undetectable levels, HIV cannot be transmitted through normal daily activities.