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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 18, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 03
GLAAD, OutServe-SLDN, Lambda Legal release media guide on Trump administration's discharge of service members living with HIV
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GLAAD, OutServe-SLDN, Lambda Legal release media guide on Trump administration's discharge of service members living with HIV

NEW YORK (January 14, 2019) - GLAAD, the world's largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today partnered with OutServe-SLDN and Lambda Legal by issuing a fact sheet to help the media with the ongoing reports of the Trump administration discharging service members on the basis of an HIV diagnosis. Given the disproportionate impact of HIV on gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender women, the move is the latest in a two-year assault by the Trump administration against LGBTQ Americans.

'A person's HIV status does not harm their ability to perform a job with excellence, and service members living with HIV are no exception. Their willingness to protect the freedoms of our nation is one of the bravest acts by any American,' said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. 'By putting their anti-LGBTQ activism ahead of common sense, the Trump administration is not only attacking marginalized people but [is] now putting our national security in jeopardy.'

'Mistruths and misinformation surrounding open military service by our siblings-in-arms that are living with HIV are being used to cloak the blatant discriminatory animus the Trump-Pence administration has against these selfless patriots,' said Andy Blevins, executive director of OutServe-SLDN. 'Readily available medical resources ensure that HIV remains a manageable condition and has no effect on a person's service to our nation. There is simply no reasonable explanation, founded in modern-day science, that the service of these otherwise qualified and selfless patriots should be prevented or limited.'

'Today we filed a preliminary injunction to immediately stop the Trump administration from continuing this heinous practice of firing HIV-positive individuals who are more than capable of serving their country,' said Scott Schoettes, counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal. 'These decisions should be based on science, not stigma. Lambda Legal will keep fighting until President Trump understands there is not a job in the world a person living with HIV cannot safely perform, including the job of soldier.'

Since taking office, President Trump and his administration have orchestrated 89 direct attacks on LGBTQ Americans, aimed at erasing them from the fabric of this nation. This rhetoric by the most anti-LGBTQ administration in modern history could have a devastating impact on acceptance for marginalized people in the country. GLAAD has documented every attack with its Trump Accountability Project (TAP) [https://www.glaad.org/trump].

The media guide by GLAAD, OutServe, and Lambda Legal can be found below. And for GLAAD's complete guide to HIV and AIDS research, click [https://www.glaad.org/reference/hiv].

GLAAD Media Guide: Covering HIV & Military Service

With news of the Trump administration unfairly discharging service members because of their HIV-positive status, GLAAD, OutServe-SLDN, and Lambda Legal are partnering together to provide a media reference guide to help reporters cover this sensitive topic.

Summary: The United States Armed Forces are the only employer in the nation that [is] still being permitted to discriminate against people living with HIV. Americans who are living with HIV cannot:

" Join the military

" Attend a military academy

" Be commissioned as an officer, if already enlisted

" Deploy without a waiver, which are rarely granted. [DoDI 6130.01, DoDI 6485.01, DoDI 6490.07]

Facts and Figures
" An estimated 1,200 service members currently identify as HIV positive. [See Update: Routine Screening for Antibodies to Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Civilian Applicants for U.S. Military Service and U.S. Armed Forces, Active and Reserve Components, January 2012-June 2017, Vol. 24 No. 9, Medical Surveillance Monthly Report 8, 8-14 (Defense Health Agency, Sept. 2017).]

" Approximately 350 new diagnoses of HIV every year among all components of the US Armed Forces. [Update: Routine screening for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus, civil applicants for U.S. military service, and U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, January 2013-June 2018, Vol. 25, No. 9, Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (Defense Health Agency, Sept. 2018).]

Treatment = No Risks It's important to remember that when a person's HIV viral load is suppressed, they cannot transmit HIV to others.

" FACT: Service members are all provided with healthcare, so those who are HIV positive and take their medications as prescribed achieve a suppressed or undetectable viral load within a couple of months. [DoDI 6485.01 Encl. 3; see also, e.g., AR 600-110, DA Form 5669]

" FACT: In accordance with the standard of care for HIV, service members with HIV are treated with a single- or dual-tablet regimen, which means they need only take one or two pills once a day. The medication does not require special storage and can be dispensed in a six-month supply.

" FACT: According to medical experts, there is no risk of battlefield transmission of HIV, especially if a person's viral load is suppressed. This includes situations involving contact with blood.



Treatment prevents a person with HIV from becoming sick or disabled by their HIV, and allows them to live long, healthy, and enriched lives.

" FACT: A person who is timely diagnosed with HIV and who adheres to their prescribed treatment will have about the same life expectancy as a person not living with HIV. [CDC, About HIV/AIDS, www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html]

" FACT: According to medical experts, a person with HIV who adheres to prescribed treatment will not progress to AIDS and will not become sick with HIV-related illnesses.

" FACT: Asymptomatic HIV is not considered a disability by the VA or the military disability evaluation system. It merits a zero percent disability rating. [Veteran Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD), 38 CFR ยง 4.88b (code 6351)]

The Case for These Service Members
Both Roe and Voe have the full support of their command to be retained in the Armed Forces, and their doctors say that HIV will not limit their ability to do their jobs.

A person with HIV can hold any job in the world, including physically demanding jobs like police officer and fire fighter involving risk of injury, without posing any danger to their colleagues.

Note: They are also not prohibited from working for military contractors, where they can and do serve alongside US troops across the globe, including in combat zones.

Service members with other medical conditions are allowed to join the military and to deploy to forward positions, even if they have to take daily medicine. [DoDI 6130.01, DoDI 6490.07]

In 2017 and 2018, the Air Force granted waivers allowing over 2,000 people with various disqualifying medical conditions to join the military. [Military.com, 12.12.2018]

Note: But no waivers were granted for person living with HIV.

According to the record in the case, at least six service members with HIV have received orders directing their discharge because of their HIV status.

According to the record in the case, at least one member of the Air Force with HIV has been stationed abroad for over two years while his case has been pending, demonstrating the military can care for service members with HIV while they are serving abroad.

Conclusion: By discharging Americans who bravely want to defend the freedoms of our nation, the Trump administration is putting its political, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric ahead of the well-being of our nation and our service members.

Courtesy of GLAAD

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