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  • Nic F. Anderson

Judge Bars Military from Discharges Due to HIV Status

Leonie M. Brinkema, a US District judge, issued a permanent injunction earlier this month from “categorically barring the worldwide deployment of asymptomatic HIV-positive service members with undetectable viral loads based on their HIV status.”

Brinkema initially put a seal on her opinion, which makes it private, in an effort to give the parties time to modify the opinion out of privacy or security concerns. She removed the seal and the opinion became public on April 21.

Her opinion was heavily influenced by a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, Virginia, which upheld the judge’s grant of a preliminary injunction that barred the military from discharging two service members with a positive HIV status.

Brinkema’s opinion is that the current military policies are based on outdated and inaccurate information lingering from the early days of the AIDS epidemic, specifically information that does not take into account retroviral medication.

Her decision is subject to appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

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