The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, a uniformed service of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), publicly announced today that it is changing its medical standards to accept future applicants living with chronic hepatitis B and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
These conditions used to be medically disqualifying, but in recent years, treatments have made both HIV and hepatitis B manageable chronic conditions, similar to hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Applicants meeting new medical accession standards for these conditions may now be able to serve their country in uniform as a Public Health Service officer.
Under the USPHS Commissioned Corps updated medical accession standards, which will take effect on December 1, 2022, applicants with HIV who are on treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART), who have an undetectable viral load, and show no evidence of impaired immunity, will not be medically disqualified for this condition. Applicants living with chronic hepatitis B who show low viral blood levels and no evidence of clinically significant liver damage will also no longer be medically disqualified for this condition.
Today’s important announcement coincides with World AIDS Day and builds on the incredible progress made during the last 40 years.
HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine and U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy issued the following statements:
“As we recognize World AIDS Day and the progress made, I am honored to be a part of a change much bigger than our service. By changing our medical accession standards to reflect the latest evidence, we show the world that we are putting science first. I am proud of the USPHS Commissioned Corps for breaking barriers to help create a future where people are encouraged and able to follow their dreams.” – U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel Levine
“The dedicated officers who serve the USPHS Commissioned Corps work tirelessly to protect, promote, and advance the health of our nation. Today, on World AIDS Day, we are thrilled to announce this step to expand eligibility for those who want to serve their nation as Public Health Service officers, removing barriers to entrance for those with controlled levels of HIV and chronic hepatitis B. I am excited to welcome new potential recruits and create a more diverse community within our service.” U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy
Housed under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and led by the Assistant Secretary for Health and U.S. Surgeon General, the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of eight uniformed services and the only one dedicated solely to protecting, promoting, and advancing America’s public health. Public Health Service officers serve throughout the nation in communities that are most in need by providing health care to underserved and vulnerable populations or advancing practice, policy, or research. As America’s health responders, Public Health Service officers are the first in line to defend our nation’s public health against threats large and small.