There are 83 personnel serving in the British military who are HIV positive, new data from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) suggests.
It has been 12 months since the automatic ban on personnel with the virus serving in the Armed Forces was lifted.
The number disclosed by the MOD was provided with little context, but it is known that the majority of these individuals were already serving before the ban ended, and the Armed Forces were aware of their HIV status.
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It does suggest the known prevalence of HIV within the Armed Forces is much lower than the most recent estimation for the general UK population.
Commonly, personnel who are HIV positive are diagnosed outside of the military, meaning the figure only includes those who tested positive at a unit level via their on-base medical officer, or personnel who have disclosed to the chain of command they are HIV positive.
A military source has told Forces News that there are personnel who do not yet feel able to talk to the chain of command about their HIV status, suggesting the true number of HIV-positive people in the military could be greater than the documented 83.
In response to the data, one of the UK's most influential figures in the field of HIV has warned the MOD it needs to apply the same momentum it had in removing the ban to working towards the removal of HIV stigma in military communities.
Richard Angell, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "It's welcome that the absence of prohibitive laws and rules stopping people joining and progressing in the armed services because of their HIV status, that, with them being washed away, people are more willing to come forward and talk about their HIV status.
"Some of that will be people testing for the first time. But crucially, some are being open about a status they have known about for a long period of time.
"But for us, it's not just about the absence of rules that were out of date, it's actually about the MOD and all of our services taking it to a positive place to encourage the kind of testing that we know needs to have happened."
He added: "To have in place the support for people living with HIV, in particular peer support where they can draw support from each other."
Mr Angell also called on the MOD to pledge to supporting the UK-wide commitment to end new HIV transmissions by 2030.
As individuals are not legally compelled to reveal sensitive information about their health, such as a HIV diagnosis, the military often only becomes aware of a diagnosis when the individual decides to inform his or her chain of command.
But within the Armed Forces, figures have stepped forward to talk openly about living with HIV.
In December 2022, Lieutenant Commander Oliver Brown was named in the New Year's Honours list for his work as an HIV-positive role model within the Royal Navy.
It is thought high-profile examples like Lt Cdr Brown are contributing to creating an improved environment, one that is more accommodating of discussing topics like HIV testing and living with HIV.
An MOD spokesperson said: "We introduced changes to the HIV policy in June 2022, which removed medical restrictions for people living with HIV, and allowed them to serve in the Armed Forces.
"As a result, we have seen more candid discussions about HIV and more service personnel are willing to test when offered.
"Increased knowledge and subsequent treatment have resulted in individuals showing undetectable HIV viral loads, meaning the virus cannot be passed on to others, lessening the worry about the impact on future relationships and living a normal life.
"We encourage all personnel to take the right medical steps for them to live happy and normal lives and hope to see this positive impact and perception change with other long-term, stable conditions."
In May, NATO ally France announced it will follow in the UK's footsteps and end its ban on HIV-positive personnel serving in their military.
In response to the announcement, a joint press release from eight different HIV and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups in France, said: "For many years our associations and the people concerned have been denouncing this obsolete and discriminatory reference system, which excluded people with HIV from accessing most of the professions it oversees without taking an interest in their state of health."