Before answering this very important question, it’s important to understand, not all STDs are the same. Sexually transmitted diseases can range from easily curable to life-threatening. If you want to join the military with an STD, whether you qualify or you don’t will depend on which STD you have.
Most STDs won’t disqualify you from joining the military. When you look at the medical conditions related to disqualification, STDs are not really on the list. HSV1 and HSV2 will not keep you from joining and the only STD that may is HIV.
It’s always best to contact a military recruiter before you decide to join the military. Recruiters have dealt with these issues before and can advise you on your specific condition.
Join the Military with an STD: Disqualification has to do with Military Readiness
Most medical conditions keeping you from joining the military have a direct impact on military readiness. This used to be the case with many STDs. However, many of the common sexually transmitted diseases won’t impact military readiness at all.
If you have syphilis or gonorrhea, these STDs barely cause any lost duty time. However, back in World War I, the Army lost about 7 million person-days due to venereal diseases. This led to an awareness and prevention campaign during WWII and has continued on through the years.
Treatments for STDs and education about STDs have changed greatly. This has made it less of an issue for all branches of the military to accept new recruits with STDs.
What to do if you have an STD and you want to Join the Military
If you have an STD and you want to join the military, find out what you have and get it treated. This is just step one. When you go through the recruiting process, you want to be open and honest with your military recruiter about your STD.
It could be a big problem later on if the STD isn’t found in your medical records, especially if you require regular medication. Make sure it’s listed on your ongoing medical conditions list if you need regular treatment.
You should also understand what the Military Guidelines and Health Disqualifications says about your STD if anything. For example, the Army guidelines state:
b. Male genitalia
(6) Current or history of genital infection or ulceration, including, but not limited to herpes genitalis (054.13) and condyloma acuminatum (078.11), if of sufficient severity to require frequent intervention or to interfere with normal function, does not meet the standard
This means, if you have herpes or a genital infection that you cannot keep under control, you may not be able to join the military. However, if you have an infection that can easily be controlled, it shouldn’t be an issue.
What it’s Like if You Join the Military and get an STD
After joining the military, whether you already have an STD or not, it’s important to understand what it will be like if you get an STD during service. With STDs on the rise throughout every branch of the military, you should be prepared.
Punishment is in the Past
Commanding officers use to punish military service members for getting an STD. However, it’s not the same as it was and punishment is rare these days. However, if you get an STD due to a policy infraction, you’ll likely get in touch. For example, if it was due to being at an off-limits club, you will most likely end up getting punished.
Don’t Expect Privacy
While you may think joining the military with an STD or getting one while in the military should be your business, it’s not always private. If you test positive for gonorrhea, HIV, chlamydia or hepatitis B, it will be reported to public health officials. You will also need to go through counseling sessions to learn about the disease and how to keep it contained.
You Won’t get Kicked Out
The military used to have a different way of dealing with service members contracting an STD while overseas or even at home. Today, you don’t have to worry about getting kicked out. Even if you contract HIV, the military will not kick you out
Could Things Change in the Future?
Yes. Things could certainly change in the future, depending on the STD. One of the issues the military faces with allowing service members to remain in the military or recruits to join the military with an STD is deployment. In some cases, a military service member isn’t deployable after they contract an STD.
Again, this completely depends on the STD, as some can be treated once and they are gone, while others require ongoing treatment. The military has stressed deployment ability and STDs could put service members on the chopping block, if the STD keeps the service member from being deployed.