Policy change has yet to affect HIV-positive sailors

May 22, 2013 at 9:53 AM

WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) -- Not a single sailor diagnosed as HIV-positive has been assigned overseas since the U.S. Navy changed its policy toward such medical conditions, officials say.

In instructions issued in August 2012, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said sailors and Marines under treatment for blood-borne illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis C could be assigned overseas and to large-ship platforms.

However, the Navy's Personnel Command is still determining how to implement the change, Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday.

Personnel Command officials declined to say when the policy will actually take effect. Spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Rob Lyon said the Navy had recently completed a review to ensure affected sailors "will have the greatest opportunity to be successful, and any concerns by their receiving commands will be addressed."

Recent medical advances have influenced the change, which is aimed at helping HIV-positive sailors and Marines who are stable and have minimal medical complications.

The new policy allows medical personnel and receiving commanders to reject an assignment request based on "medical risks and needs" and whether the unit could support the sailor's required care.

Some 315 Navy service members were HIV-positive in 2012, including 250 on active duty, said Shoshana Pilip-Florea, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

The Army and the Air Force still limit HIV-positive troops from being assigned overseas.

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