Military readiness appears to have suffered yet another setback in the name of “equity.”
Earlier this month, responding to a Virginia lawsuit, the Department of Defense amended its existing policy on service by personnel diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus.
Under previous policy, military personnel who were diagnosed with HIV were barred from military deployments and other combat zones.
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The justification for such a policy is sound. HIV, a virus often transmitted through contact with blood, has potential to spread in a combat zone where the shedding and sharing of blood is common.
However, the plaintiffs in the Virginia lawsuit argued that such a policy was archaic, unnecessarily discriminatory, and not fit for the modern age given modern medicines and advancements.
This is the justification that the Defense Department used when it amended its policy, explaining that personnel who have tested positive for HIV now will not be barred from deployment so long as they are asymptomatic and possess a clinically confirmed undetectable viral load.
While these effects can be achieved by some modern HIV medications, concern remains that on a battlefield these medicines may be difficult, if not impossible, to access, which could potentially place the HIV-positive individual at risk, as well as others.
This is not the first time the Biden administration has amended its military policies in the name of greater inclusion.
Earlier this year, the Army chose to abandon its gender-neutral combat fitness test that it had spent over a decade preparing over concerns that the test did not produce equitable results between men and women.
Along with discarding the test, the Army also weakened the test standards, allowing soldiers four more minutes to complete the 2-mile run and pass. Now a soldier can complete 2 miles in 22 minutes and still pass.