A military college student says in a lawsuit that armed forces officials deemed him unfit for service because he tested positive for HIV

BOSTON — A military college student said in a complaint filed Thursday that Armed Forces officials deemed him unfit for service because he tested positive for HIV.

The 20-year-old student from Revere, Massachusetts, said in the lawsuit against state and federal military officials that he tested positive for HIV in October 2020 during his second year at the oldest military college. private country, Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont.

The student, who is only identified in the lawsuit as John Doe, said in the complaint filed in federal court in Burlington, Vermont, that he was deemed unfit for service and discharged from the Training Corps reserve and Vermont National Guard officers despite being healthy, asymptomatic and on a treatment regimen that renders his viral load undetectable.

His lawsuit notes that he was told he would not be able to obtain a scholarship through ROTC or be entitled to other military service benefits, such as tuition waivers and medical and medical coverage. dental.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based group that filed the lawsuit on the student’s behalf, provided redacted copies of the student’s release papers, which show he was released from custody in January for not be “medically qualified”.

Spokespersons for the U.S. Department of Defense and the Vermont National Guard, who are both named in the lawsuit, declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.

Under Department of Defense regulations, HIV is one of a long list of medical conditions that automatically disqualify a person from enlisting, commissioning, or registering as an ROTC Fellow Cadet.

Lawyers for the student say the military’s HIV policies date back to the 1980s, when little was known about the disease which, if left untreated, can lead to AIDS.

“A generation after they were developed, the Army’s policies are highly anachronistic and do not reflect current medical reality,” Lawyers for Civil Rights claims in the lawsuit. “Advances in medical treatment and prevention have transformed HIV from a progressive, terminal disease into a manageable condition.”

A federal judge in Virginia ruled last month that service members who are HIV-positive cannot be released or barred from becoming an officer solely because they are infected with the virus.

Sophia Hall, deputy director of litigation at Lawyers for Civil Rights, said the student’s case was unrelated because Virginia’s ruling only applied to those already serving in the military.

The student, in a statement provided by his attorneys, said he hoped to restore his military status to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and uncles who served in the armed forces. The lawsuit also asks the court to invalidate the military regulations and policies that led to his dismissal from the National Guard and ROTC.