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Military Rejects 66 Potential Recruits After Tests for AIDS

Associated Press

The Pentagon has barred 66 civilians from military service during the last month because they tested positive for exposure to a virus associated with the disease AIDS, according to informed sources.

The 66 were among 71,683 recruits screened since mandatory testing was started on Oct. 15 for evidence of the fatal, primarily sexually transmitted disease, the sources said.

“We are coming in lower than our best ‘guesstimate’ among the health people, and the actual numbers are, indeed, small,” one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“That is not to minimize the severity of the problem, but it is not an epidemic,” the source said. “And it is certainly not a rate for those (already) in the military; it’s a rate for job applicants, for civilians trying to join the military.”

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The Defense Department has completed a statistical breakdown on 34,996 of the 71,683 recruits already tested. Of those 34,996, 40 had been exposed to the AIDS virus, producing an incidence rate of 1.14 per 1,000. A rate of 2 or 3 per 1,000 had been expected.

No actual cases of AIDS were reported, although an undetermined percentage of people exposed to the virus later become infected with the disease.

The Pentagon began screening voluntary blood donors on July 1. Starting Oct. 15, the program was extended to all recruits seeking to join the military. Last month, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger decided that the testing should be extended to all active-duty and reserve personnel, although that phase is not expected to begin before next year.

Under a policy directive signed by Weinberger on Oct. 24, active-duty personnel who test positive but show no signs of the disease will remain in the service, but recruits who test positive are automatically denied entry.

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