Discrimination or Protocol?

The Air Force is discriminating against people with HIV, Is this right?


Timmy Crump

HIV damages the immune system. Current medical therapy drugs repair it to the point that carrying the disease is almost negligible. This being the case, should being HIV positive affect any area of people’s lives?

Was it right for blacks to be forced to sit in the back of the bus? Is it right for homosexuals not to be able to marry someone of the same gender? Is it right for the Air Force to discharge Airmen because they’re HIV positive? In the latest news there’s an ongoing case about two Air Force soldiers who may get discharged for having HIV — but wait there’s more. The cause is a new military policy known as ‘deploy or get out’. It was enacted February 11th, 2018. The policy sets in place separation procedures for service members who have been non-deployable for the last 12 months or more, but there will be exceptions, such as pregnancy. Medical officials will review wounded personnel, and the services will retain the ability to grant exceptions to wounded warriors.

Timothy Crump. Jr
Everybody should be able to reach their personal goals, no matter their status.

The two HIV-positive airmen are suing to prevent their discharge under the military’s “deploy or get out” policy. Basically, the Air Force ruled that the status of the airmen’s HIV means they can’t deploy around the world without a waiver, and must be discharged under policy. But a federal judge in Virginia, Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, ruled that the Air Force’s treatment of HIV-positive personnel is “irrational, inconsistent, and at variance with modern science.” Both Airmen adhere to a treatment regimen that has left them without any HIV symptoms and an undetectable viral load that cannot be transmitted.  They argue that policies are discriminatory, unconstitutional, and don’t reflect how far HIV treatments have advanced in recent years.

If you pass the test you should be able to further your career.  According to Planned Parenthood, “HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It damages your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick. HIV is spread during sex, but condoms can help protect you.” The complication with the soldiers is that HIV is a virus that breaks down certain cells in your immune system, making it easier to get really sick and even die from infections that your body could normally fight off. But there’s no cure for HIV, so the medicine the soldiers take helps them stay healthy, lowering and stopping any chances of spreading the virus to other people or other soldiers.

Le’Vontrell Jones, a Senior of Heritage High School said, “It’s astonishing to find that military personnel are being discriminated by military officials for having a virus such as HIV, the soldiers in my opinion shouldn’t be discharged because of the medicine that can be taken to get rid of symptoms and live a healthy life like my main man E.J the Deejay (Magic Johnson) plus, the soldiers have been in service for over 6 years now. Why discharge them now?” In an article on Planned Parenthood it is stated, “Studies show that using HIV treatment as directed can lower the amount of HIV in your blood so much that it might not even show up on a test — when this happens, you can’t transmit HIV through sex.” This makes it clear that if soldiers have taken the medicine like they’re supposed to they’re technically healthy enough to meet any PT standards.  Barbara Norton, a Government teacher of Lafayette High School said, “Their blood should tested to see if the virus is still infectious and if not they should be able to deploy, if the virus is still infectious they should follow protocol with the discharge process because its a liability to the Airforce and the military as a whole because if they get cut or shot and the infected blood gets on another soldier or civilian they are going to get infected as well.”

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Stephen Losey, a writer of the AirForce Times said, “The airmen, a staff sergeant who enlisted in 2012 a senior airman who enlisted in 2011, adhere to a treatment regimen that has left them without any HIV symptoms and with an undetectable viral load that cannot be transmitted, according to the lawsuit.” All in all, decisions should be based on science, not stigma. If soldiers are passing fitness standards and excelling in their jobs they should be able to get a waiver and be able to deploy because the medicine of today for HIV has further advanced meaning the military should comply with the new functionality of the medicine and make waivers for infected soldiers.