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Israeli army to allow HIV-positive soldiers to enlist

The Israeli military has said it will begin to allow HIV-positive soldiers to enlist. It is a radical departure for the army, which in the past disqualified people infected with the virus from becoming soldiers.

Israel said on Tuesday it would allow people with HIV to become soldiers, reversing a long-held ban on those infected with the virus from joining the army.

The head of the military's medical service said the decision was largely in response to the advanced treatments of HIV that have been developed in recent years.

"The risk of contagion for other soldiers is becoming increasingly low," Mosche Pinkert said.

However, HIV-infected soldiers will only be allowed to serve in administrative jobs, not in combat.

Gradual thaw

The decision is the culmination of a decade-long relaxation of the military's hard-line policy toward HIV-positive people. Over the years, the Israeli army has reviewed people concerned on a case-by-case basis, and sometime allowed them to enlist.

Pinkert said there are ten people with HIV currently serving in the army.

In Israel, men and women are subject to mandatory military service. Men must serve three years and women two years in the armed services.

blc/jm (AP, dpa)

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