France to lift ban on HIV Positive people joining the military in landmark move

French officials have announced that a policy that previously barred HIV Positive individuals from joining the armed forces will be overturned.

This story is about France lifting the ban on HIV Positive people joining the military. The image shows an army of camouflage trousers walking together.
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Following a June 2022 decision by the UK government to allow those living with HIV to join the British Army and Royal Navy, France has announced that it will reform its own health evaluation criteria for armed forces applicants. 

Under the new policy, those living with HIV in France will be able to join the Armed Forces and the gendarmerie, as well as be able to join fire brigades in Paris and Marseille. 

The landmark decision was announced by Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu, who reported that he had signed “a provision to review the set of aptitude criteria for entering the armed forces”. The decree was officially announced in the Official Gazette on May 10. 

The policy update allows HIV Positive individuals to join the armed forces so long as they have been undergoing treatment for more than 12 months. 

Previously, those living with HIV were barred from entering many armed forces positions on the basis of physical fitness, a decision based on a now-outdated view of HIV and its care. 

Under the updated policy, however, any HIV Positive applicant whose viral load is undetectable will receive a health assessment score of 2 or 3 on a scale from 1 to 6. Previously, an HIV diagnosis meant that applicants would be given a lower health assessment score from 3 to 5. 

“For many years our associations and the people concerned have been denouncing this obsolete and discriminatory reference system, which excluded people with HIV from accessing most of the professions it oversees without taking an interest in their state of health,” said a joint press release from eight different HIV and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups. 

Following last year’s decision in the UK to allow HIV Positive individuals to join the British Army and Royal Navy, serving members living with HIV have been deemed fully fit to serve so long as they are receiving the necessary treatment.

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