Importance Of Mandatory HIV Testing In The Military

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Mandatory HIV Testing in the Military
Maggie Smith
Davenport University Mandatory HIV Testing in the Military
Since 1985, The United States Defense Department mandates that active duty service members be tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Since then, more than 54 million HIV tests have been performed on over 8 million personnel. Ideally, service members must remain mentally and physically able to perform their mission. Each branch of the military has their own policies regarding the assignments and duty locations for service members with HIV/AIDS; however, three commonalities exist across services regarding frequency of testing, restrictions on enlistment, and retention. In the military, a third individual is entrusted with
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Screening for HIV can identify soldiers in the military who have contracted the disease, and as equally important as detection and is to make sure that it not spread to others. The military represent a highly susceptible population in regards to contracting and spreading HIV because of times of conflict and deployment overseas.
According to UNAIDS (1998), there are several factors that contribute to the spread of HIV among military troops, including being:
• highly mobile, possibly in foreign countries
• surrounded by opportunities for casual sex
• under the constant stress of war which can result in an increase in risk-taking behaviors of a highly sexually active age group
• at an increased risk of drug or alcohol use
• away from families or significant others and lacking intimacy

UNAIDS (1998), “HIV is a threat not only to military personnel but also to their families and community. Military HIV programmes are most effective if there is close collaboration with civilian health authorities. Probably the single most important factor leading to high rates of HIV in the military is the practice of posting personnel far from their accustomed communities and families for varying periods of time. As well as freeing them from traditional social controls, it removes them from contact with spouses or regular sexual partners and thereby encourages growth of sex industries in the areas
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Their argument is that are the human rights of privacy and autonomy of soldiers are violated by mandatory testing. Soldiers also cannot question superiors ' orders the way most civilians can. Another reason people Secondly, they believe that with a possible or probable, inappropriate release of information about the test result, these individuals will suffer discrimination not just in terms of health services but also in other areas of life.
There is much misinformation and unwarranted apprehension about who is or who can be a source of infection. Allegations and suspicions can be disruptive to unit morale and unjustly harm professional standing and acceptance in military units. There are potential and real problems associated with disclosing a person’s HIV positivity, such as discrimination in employment, health and life insurance, school attendance, etc. For these reasons, HIV test results must be treated with the highest degree of confidentiality and released to no one without a demonstrated need to know. Strict compliance with the provisions of the Privacy Act instructions is required. All command and medical personnel with access to such information must ensure careful, limited distribution to affirmatively combat unfounded innuendo and speculation about the meaning of the

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