A three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court injunction
blocking the Air Force from discharging two HIV-positive service
The Trump administration in February
2018 introduced a new discharge policy for any service member who
cannot be deployed outside the United States for more than one year.
A long-standing Department of Defense rule states that HIV-positive
service members can't be deployed outside the US without a waiver.
Two unidentified airmen filed their
suit in December 2018.
The appeals court said that the policy
was no longer justified.
“A ban on deployment may have been
justified at a time when HIV treatment was less effective at managing
the virus and reducing transmission risks," the judges wrote.
"But any understanding of HIV that
could justify this ban is outmoded and at odds with current science.
Such obsolete understandings cannot justify a ban, even under a
deferential standard of review and even according appropriate
deference to the military's professional judgments."
The airmen are being represented by
“At the root of these discharge
decisions and other restrictions on the service of people living with
HIV are completely outdated and bigoted ideas about HIV," said
Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal. "Today's
ruling clears the way for us to definitively prove at trial that a
person living with HIV can perform the job of soldier or airman as
well and as safely as anyone else."