Two U.S. airmen are suing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis after they said they were discharged from the military last month over their HIV-positive status, The Washington Post reports. The two men, identified only by the aliases Richard Roe and Victor Voe in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, argue that their discharge violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause and federal law. Both active-duty airmen tested positive for HIV during Air Force screenings last year. After they began antiretroviral treatments, their doctors determined they were asymptomatic and physically fit to deploy—yet the men later received word that they were deemed unfit for service. The military reportedly informed them they were being discharged due to a rule banning HIV-positive personnel from deploying to the Middle East, where most Air Force members tend to go. “Policies singling out service members living with HIV for starkly different treatment are an unfortunate vestige of a time when HIV was untreatable and invariably fatal,” the men argued in the complaint. “These anachronistic policies are no longer justified in light of modern medical science.” The two airmen said they were not offered alternative jobs, which they both would have accepted.
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