Landmark Case: HIV+ Air Force Members Cannot be Expelled based on Status

What a fantastic story and a wonderful job by Lambda Legal!

As the story goes, the Air Force followed orders to discharge members who were HIV+ and prevent them from serving.

However, both soldiers were on effective antiretroviral treatments since their diagnoses in 2017, leading to no symptoms. Both were determined to be physically fit and in good health to be deployed by their doctors, but the Air Force discharged them anyways. The two service-members then decided to pursue legal action to become re-instated and to prevent the discriminatory policy from being continued. Lambda Legal, stepped in to help the men in their case and were also backed by the Modern Military Associate of America (MMAA), whose Executive Director Andy Blevins said, “Thanks to modern science, there is no legitimate reason to deny service members living with HIV the ability to continue to serve their country.”

Lawyers for the Air Force and other departments argued that these men can be discharged, despite a regulation that prohibits discharge based on HIV status alone. They claim that they can be discharged because airmen with HIV are not allowed to deploy. Lambda Legal countered that preventing them from deploying because they have HIV and then discharging them because they cannot deploy is just another way of discharging them for having HIV.

Additionally, they argue, there is no basis for discharging them because they are receiving regular, preventative medical care and because of this, there is no real risk of transmission to others. Medical professionals have filed briefs to the court supporting these claims as well.

Thankfully, a federal court determined that the airmen’s defense was sound and that the Air Force and Pentagon could not expel service members based on HIV status!

Follow the story with this link! https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-co…/cases/roe-and-voe-v-esper