Military Breaches HIV+ Settlement Refusing Cadet

Health Disparities

Military Breaches Settlement Agreement With HIV-Positive Cadet, Refuses To Allow Him To Serve

Cadet Seeks Court Assistance in Enforcing Settlement Agreement

Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) filed a motion in Doe v. Austin, et. al., the federal civil rights lawsuit challenging the U.S. military’s discriminatory policies against people living with HIV, asking the Court to reopen the case because the military has breached a 2022 settlement agreement. The agreement required the military to allow the Plaintiff the opportunity to commission as an officer, despite the military’s discriminatory ban against admitting people living with HIV. One year into the agreement, however, the military continues to throw up roadblocks to his entrance.

The Plaintiff is a young Latino male and first-generation college student living with HIV, and he has aspired to a career in the military since he was very young. He completed nearly one and a half years of service in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and the Vermont Army National Guard before he was summarily discharged because of his HIV status. 
Under the 2022 settlement agreement, the military was required to re-enroll him without regard to his HIV status. However, it has refused to do so, inventing new, pretextual reasons to bar his entry. Federal courts have ruled that HIV is not disqualifying for those who have already enlisted, and the military has recently changed its policies for existing service members as a result. However, the military’s discriminatory ban continues to apply to those seeking to join the military in the first place. This discriminatory policy persists despite clear medical advancements that have, over the past decades, turned HIV into a fully manageable condition.

“The military’s refusal to honor its agreement and re-enlist our client shows that its discriminatory treatment of HIV-positive individuals remains deep-seated,” said Sophia Hall, LCR Deputy Litigation Director. “We will continue to fight for our client and hold the military to its word. The military’s blind loyalty to this unlawful ban on those who are HIV-positive must end.”