British Army Changes HIV Enlisting Rules In ‘Momentous Move’

by : Julia Banim on :
British Army Changes HIV Enlisting Rules In 'Momentous Move'Alamy

In what has been described as a ‘momentous’ move forward, the armed forces’ enlisting rules for those with HIV have been changed. 

Previously, those with HIV couldn’t join the armed forces. Meanwhile, diagnoses received while serving result in the individual being regarded as no longer ‘fully fit’ and barred completely from certain operations.


All this is now set to change, as announced on World Aids Day (December 1), with those with HIV now permitted to enlist as long as they no longer have a detectable amount of the virus. Furthermore, serving personnel with a non-detectable viral load will have their classification changed to being fully fit to serve, allowing them to participate in previously prohibited military operations.

World Aids Day (Alamy)Alamy

With treatment, the amount of the virus found in a HIV positive person’s blood may be reduced to levels that are undetectable, effectively eliminating any chances of the virus being passed on to others.

As reported by Reuters, junior defence minister Leo Docherty said:


Drug treatment has revolutionised the lives and outcomes of people diagnosed with HIV. As a modern and inclusive employer, it is only right that we recognise and act on the latest scientific evidence.

Praising the proposed changes, Britain’s National AIDS Trust chief executive, Deborah Gold, said: ‘A career in the armed forces was the only career not open to people living with HIV in the UK, and with this much-needed change the military will be more able to meet its obligation to promote inclusivity within its ranks.’

Meanwhile, Ian Green, Chief Executive at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said:


This is a momentous day which shows how far we have come in the fight against HIV. It is absolutely the right decision and there is no reason why people living with HIV shouldn’t serve in our armed forces.

It’s crucial that all the medical progress that’s been made in HIV is reflected in our rules and regulations with the armed forces a clear outlier up until today. These changes must now be urgently implemented.


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It’s understood that these changes will be rolled out from early next year onwards, making the UK just the second country in the world to update its armed forces policy in this manner.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, HIV, Now


Reuters and 1 other
  1. Reuters

    British armed forces to allow people with HIV to enlist

  2. Terrence Higgins Trust

    Ban on HIV-positive people joining UK armed forces overturned