Mexico: Court rules HIV+ soldiers can stay in the military

Mexico‘s Supreme Court has reversed a law that allowed the military to force HIV-positive soldiers out of the armed forces. 11 members of the military brought the case to the court after more than 300 HIV-positive soldiers had been fired in the last 13 years, judged ”useless” by the military. Five of the members may be reinstated.  Two died before the ruling, but their families could be helped by receiving benefits formerly denied to them by the former law.

The decision was approved 8 to 3 on February 27, and changed article 226 of the Ley del Instituto de Seguridad Social de las Fuerzas Armadas Mexicanas (ISSFAM), [Law of the Social Security Institute of the Mexican Armed Forces].  The changes state that only when soldiers become physically unfit for service, or to have AIDS itself, can the armed services force them to leave.

One of the soldiers reported that military doctors tested him for HIV without his permission, and informed his wife and family of his condition before they informed him.

At least 40,000 people are HIV positive in Mexico, though official estimates suspect that the real rate could be 3 to 4 times that number.