France, green light from Defense Minister Lecornu for HIV-positive people in the Armed Forces

The French army opens to HIV positive people. This was announced today by the Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu: “Having HIV – he said – will no longer be a criterion of discrimination in principle”. The provision, approved on the proposal of Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, “will be published in the next few days” and will be applied to the “gendarmerie, the firefighters of Paris and Marseilles and all the armed forces”, Lecornu specified to the microphones of the TV France 2 on the commemoration day of the armistice of 8 May 1945.

Reviewed the criteria of the Sigycop

Until now, HIV-positive people in France were denied access to this type of profession. The Ministry of the Armed Forces, whose health service also regulates the recruitment of gendarmes and military policemen, had always refused to modify the physical aptitude device used in various public service professions, known as “Sigycop”. Because of this regulation, any person who claimed to be HIV positive at the time of the medical examination entering the armed forces was assessed as “unfit” and with a low score. Today, however, things are changing: in fact, Minister Lecornu has already signed “a provision to review the set of aptitude criteria for entering the armed forces”.

Council of State: “Recruitment ban is discriminatory”

A first step was taken in November 2022, when the HIV-positive criterion was removed at least for the recruitment of police officers. Then, at the beginning of 2023, the decisive push: in the context of an appeal presented at the end of 2020 by seven LGBT+ organizations, the magistrates of the Council of State hinted that it was a discriminatory device. In recent days, therefore, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin proposed to his colleague Lecornu to put an end to recruitment criteria that exclude HIV-positive people from the gendarmerie and other military corps. “This state of affairs linked to military status and the constraints it imposes seems to have to evolve”, assessed the interior minister in a letter addressed to his colleague in charge of defence.

Decree will be published in the coming days

Under the law in force, the assessment of a physical incapacity must be the subject of an individualized and detailed examination with respect to the candidate’s pathology and the function he intends to perform. At present, the evaluation must also take into account “the evolution of scientific and medical knowledge”. The latest scientific studies have also shown that HIV-positive people receiving antiretroviral treatment have an undetectable viral load and do not transmit HIV. On the basis of these assessments, in recent days representatives of LGBT+ associations held talks with Minister Lecornu, who argued that “transporting the treatments to the operational field posed logistical problems”, but the members of the rights defense collectives replied that ” external operations concern only a part of the soldiers while a good part of the others remain in the offices”. Finally, today the confirmation: a decree amending the recruitment rules “will be published in the next few days”.