Mexican Defense Ministry To Re-Enlist Several HIV-Positive Soldiers
Mexican Ministry of Defense officials on Tuesday announced that they will re-enlist several HIV-positive soldiers after the country's Supreme Court ruled their expulsions unconstitutional, Reuters reports (Reuters, 3/6). The defense ministry between 2000 and 2005 discharged 164 soldiers who tested positive for HIV. Eleven military personnel filed legal challenges to their expulsions from the armed services. Mexico's Supreme Court last week ruled 8-3 that a law used to discharge HIV-positive soldiers is unconstitutional and ordered the defense ministry to re-enlist four expelled soldiers. Chief Justice Guillermo Ortiz Mayagoitia said a section of the law that provides for the expulsion of HIV-positive military personnel based on "uselessness" violates the "rules of equality" protected by the Mexican Constitution. The armed forces can discharge soldiers who have developed AIDS or who cannot complete their duties because of medical reasons, Mayagoitia's ruling said. A congressional committee has requested that the country's armed forces provide figures on the number of military personnel living with HIV/AIDS and how many have been discharged because of their status (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/1). The defense ministry in a statement said it will re-enlist nearly all of the 11 HIV-positive soldiers who filed claims and pay benefits to the family of one soldier who has died. "We will re-enlist any persons the court determines should be reinstated to active service," the statement said, adding that the ministry also will provide medical treatment for the HIV-positive soldiers if required to do so by the court (Reuters, 3/6). The ministry also said it "will keep watch and demand" that the HIV-positive soldiers "are treated with the respect they deserve within the (army), just like any other member of the armed forces, in compliance with the constitutional guarantees of equality, nondiscrimination and protection of the right to health." In addition, the ministry said "the policies of prevention established ... to avoid situations that put health at risk will be strengthened, and the methods that have been shown to be effective in protecting against sexually transmitted diseases will continue to be put into practice" (EFE News Service, 3/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.