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Published by Tom Carpenter
HIV and DADT repeal
HIV and DADT repeal

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Published by: Tom Carpenter on Dec 30, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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` MILITARY OUTREACH COMMITTEEPolicy and Legal Team2 August 2010Subj: HIV / AIDS and Gays in the MilitaryBACKGROUNDThe Military Outreach Committee (MOC) formed the Policy and Legal Team toassist the Department of Defense’s Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) inaddressing potential issues previously identified regarding the implementation of repealof the law commonly known as “ Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). This paper is authored by a physician with personal knowledge of the issue, Alan M. Steinman, MD, MPH(RADM (Ret), USPHS).DISCUSSIONThe issue of HIV and AIDS is occasionally raised as a reason for maintaining thecurrent DADT policy. The underlying assumption in this reasoning is that allowing gay,lesbian and bisexual (GLB) troops to serve in the military would increase the number of HIV+ service members and create an unacceptable risk for HIV- (and presumablyheterosexual) service members. A corollary to this assumption is that a significantnumber of current and future GLB troops are or would be become sero-positive for HIV,and the risk of transmission of HIV through emergency battlefield transfusions of freshwhole blood would increase if GLB troops were allowed to serve. So strong were theseassumptions in the early years of DADT that the FY96 Defense Appropriations Actincluded legislation that required the discharge of any HIV+ troops; but Congressrepealed that provision the next year as unnecessary. Since that time, none of the direassumptions about GLB troops has been supported by factual evidence.GLB troops have been legally serving in the military under DADT since 1993. If their presence in the workforce created a risk for the increased incidence of HIV+military troops, the Department of Defense (DoD) would have already seen evidence of such an increase in the seventeen years since the DADT law was enacted. Since allrecruits and officer accessions are tested for HIV, and since all troops are tested everytwo years for the HIV virus, DoD medical data on sero-conversion of troops from HIV-to HIV+ should have shown an increase in HIV prevalence in the active duty workforce.Such an increase has not occurred. In fact, the U.S. Military HIV Research Program(USMHRP) published a paper in December 2007 that stated the following: “Theincidence of new infections in all three services has remained constant over the pastdecade at approximately 350 each year.” Thus, despite the legal presence of GLB troopsin the military for the past 17 years, no significant increase in HIV infections hasoccurred.

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