- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2019

A federal judge Friday issued an injunction halting the U.S. Air Force from discharging members who test positive for HIV, saying the practice is outdated.

Two members of the Air Force had challenged the policy as discriminatory, saying they received discharge orders even though their HIV was being treated and they were asymptomatic.

Judge Leonie Brinkema, a Clinton appointee to the bench, sided with the airmen but declined to issue a military-wide ruling.

“Plaintiffs have made a strong preliminary showing that the Air Force’s approach to service members living with HIV is irrational, inconsistent, and at variance with modem science,” Judge Brinkema wrote in her 54-page order.

The judge reasoned HIV is no longer the death sentence it was whendiscovered in the 1980s, nor is it as easily transmitted as once believed.

The Air Force does not allow HIV-positive individuals to enlist, but if an active member tests positive, he or she is treated and given limited duties — including being kept on U.S. territory.

Deciding whether to retain a member is decided on a case-by-case basis.

One of the individuals who successfully challenged his dismissal was set to be discharged in just 10 days.

Lambda Legal, a pro-LGBT legal organization, had filed the lawsuit on behalf of the servicemen.

“This is a major victory in our fight to ensure everyone living with HIV can serve their country without discrimination,” said Scott Schoettes, counsel with Lambda Legal. “These decisions should be based on science, not stigma, as today’s ruling from the bench demonstrates.”

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