The IDF plans soon to change its policy and begin drafting soldiers who are HIV-positive.
If and when that happens, young Israeli teens who until now were unable to join their peers in army uniforms due to their medical profiles will be channeled into non-combat positions.
Up to this point, HIV-positive individuals were automatically ruled unfit for service due to their medical condition. But if the proposed policy change is approved at the higher echelons, that will change.
“These recruits will undergo extra medical tests by a team of military and civil physicians prior to their draft,” Lt. Libby Weiss, head of the IDF North American media desk told JewishPress.com. “If all their examinations check out and they are completely healthy other than their HIV status, they will enter the military with a physical profile of 45.”
Weiss explained this will allow HIV-positive soldiers to serve in a variety of positions, “including technical support, intelligence and cyber warfare.”
Such recruits will be assigned to posts where medical personnel are kept informed of their status and maintain an active connection with their outside physicians. This is an exception to the norm, which mandates soldiers to restrict their medical care to military medical staff.
“In the case of the HIV-positive soldier, medical personnel on base will be in close contact with the outside treating physician,” said Weiss. “But in any case, only soldiers who are entirely in control of their condition would be accepted to serve.”
Over the past 10 years, the IDF has sometimes allowed HIV-positive individuals to volunteer when they insisted on enlisting, after lengthy interviews and examinations.
The move again places the IDF in a leadership role, Weiss said, pointing out that “Israel is the first nation to allow HIV-positive soldiers to serve” in its military.
“It is a very important step,” she said. “By accepting HIV-positive recruits into the army, we also reduce the social stigma around the virus that causes AIDS, and the stigma these people face in society.”
The new policy emerged from within the medical corps, which periodically reviews enlistment medical criteria. It now goes to IDF Chief Medical Officer Col. Dr. David “Dudu” Dagon, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for approval before it can take effect.
“I don’t think we are talking about a long process,” Weiss said. “It won’t be within a week or two, but it also won’t take years, either.”
Hana Levi Julian