The government has approved a new HIV/AIDS policy that allows the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) to recruit and selectively deploy HIV-positive soldiers; this overturns a previous provision excluding soldiers living with HIV, reports PlusNews.

According to the article, the new policy complies with a May 2008 High Court ruling, which found that excluding HIV-positive South Africans from military recruitment and foreign deployment was unconstitutional.

The SANDF’s surgeon general, Lieutenant General Vejaynand Ramlakan, said the military has been in the process of revising its HIV policy for some time. While the details of the new policy remain classified, parts are being implemented.

“The reason [the new policy] has taken so long is that we’re dealing with the stigma and fears that surround HIV and AIDS,” Ramlakan said. “Military people share all the misunderstandings of wider society. We needed to consult very widely with all military commanders and to convince them of the need to change the existing policy, and to prevent any misunderstanding about whether combat readiness would be affected.”