The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, a uniformed service of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced Thursday 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.
“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,” stated U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel Levine.
Under the USPHS Commissioned Corps updated medical accession standards, which took 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.
“The dedicated officers who serve the USPHS Commissioned Corps work tirelessly to protect, promote, and advance the health of our nation… [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 the 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,” said U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy.