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Can You Join the Military With an STD? All You Need to Know!

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

can you join the military with an std

Are you planning to join the military, but you’ve found out you have an STD? If you’re one of the many people wondering, “Can you join the military with an STD?” rest assured, you still can – unless you have HIV or if your STD is severe enough to impact your military readiness.

Nonetheless, there is more to know about military STD disqualifications. Keep reading to get a complete understanding.

Can You Join the Military With an STD?


In most cases, you can still join the military with an STD, except for those with HIV and a few other severe cases, which we’ll discuss later. This is because most STDs will not impact a member’s performance and military readiness.

The takeaway here is: even if you have an STD that the military usually is willing to overlook, if it impacts your physical health and gets in the way of your duties, you may still be disqualified at MEPS.

With that being said, don’t worry too much: the military is equipped with advanced medical care, which can your disease and allow you to have a normal life. In fact, you’ll be surprised to see how STDs never really lead to lost duty time.

Even better, the odds will likely be in your favor if you’ve been actively getting treatment for your STD. This will increase the chances that the doctors at the MEPS will deem that your disease will not impact your military readiness.

So, other than HIV, what other STDs can get you disqualified at MEPs? Let’s take a look at the list below:

  • Herpes: more often than not, people with herpes can still enlist in the military. However, if there is concrete proof that the disease does not get better with treatment or if it’s causing you too much pain, you’ll be disqualified.


  • Viral Hepatitis: the only instance where you’ll be allowed to serve, even when contracted with viral hepatitis, is that you don’t show any symptoms. As this disease can impair your liver, it poses too much threat to your military readiness.

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: again, if you’re showing any symptoms, you’ll be disqualified. That said, the military might be willing to give you a second chance if it’s still treatable with antibiotics.



List of STDs

The most common STDs that the military will test for are:

  • HIV: Transfers through sharing injecting equipment and unprotected vaginal and anal sex.


  • Chlamydia: This transmits through anal/oral/vaginal sex. It can also be passed from the mother to the infant at birth.
  • Gonorrhea: Spreads via anal/oral/vaginal sex and from mother to baby. It also causes a lot of pain. If left untreated, it can lead to infections and infertility.


  • Syphilis: This bacterial infection occurs via sexual contact. It can cause deadly damage to the brain, heart, and other organs.


Other STDs that you might want to know about are:

  • HPV: This is an abbreviation for human paillomavirus. It causes genital warts and cancer (cervical and anal cancers).
  • Herpes: This transfers through skin contact, often during sex. It gives you blisters, sores, and itchy patches.

Tips to Know If You Have an STD and You Still Want to Join the Military

  • You must know what you have. Get tests for diagnosis.
  • Know your treatment options and where those options are available.
  • Be open about your STD(s) when going through the recruitment process.
  • Make sure your STDs are listed on updated medical records.

What Happens if You Get an STD in the Military?


In the past, if you got HIV, you would have to leave the military. However, because HIV impacts the LGBTQ+ community disproportionately, this policy has been deemed discriminatory.

The military now permits HIV-positive military members to remain in service. These members will also be referred to receive treatment. The military will also offer appropriate counseling.

Note: Still, HIV-positive members can be discharged if their infection is not controllable. This is determined case-by-case through a medical board.

For other types of STDs, the military provides many supportive resources:

  • Navy & Marine Corps Sexual Health and Responsibility Program
  • Army Sexual Health – STD Prevention
  • Army Sexual Health – Sexual Health for Women
  • Gay and Bisexual Men’s Sexual Health
  • Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health

Note: If you test positive for any STDs, you will be reported to public health officials.

Frequently Asked Questions


What STDs disqualify you from the military?

If you are found HIV-positive in an entrance military STD testing, you will not get to enlist. It is part of the military disqualifications list when the military tests for STDs before deployment.

That said, if the STD is severe enough to potentially get in the way of your duties, you might still be automatically disqualified at MEPs.

How often does the military check for STDs?

The military routinely checks members for STDs. However, there is no set date or frequency for these tests. The only sure one you can expect is the military test for STDs at meps. It is the one that decides whether you qualify for enlistment.

Will HPV disqualify me from the military?

HPV is not an automatically-disqualifying disease for the military. However, whether you will be “crossed-out” because of it can also depend on the severity of your condition and the demand for new recruits. Still, there is a chance for you to join the military with HPV.

Can I join the military with herpes?

You are likely still able to enlist with herpes. If you have oral herpes, you can be sure it will not affect your ability to become a military member. But if you have genital herpes, it is not guaranteed. The military might be more cautious against it.

Can I join the military with cold sores?

Cold sores should not preclude you from enlisting in the military. But symptomatic warts might.

Does the Army test for STDs before basic training?

No. You are tested for STDs before they qualify you as a member of the military. You will not be tested before basic training. But there might be tests later on throughout your military career.

Is the Army STD policy like the Air Force STD testing?

The standard for STD disqualification is the same across all military branches. Therefore, the answer to this question is yes.

How to protect yourself from STDs?

Here are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Always use condoms when you are having sex
  • Always wash up after having sex
  • Do not share towels and undergarments
  • Get vaccinations and tests (If you do have STDs, the earlier the diagnosis, the better)
  • Communicate openly and clearly with your sex partner beforehand

Why does the military care if you have STDs?

The key to treating STDs is uncovering it early and getting the right treatment. If a member of the military has an STD, it can negatively impact his or her health and readiness.

Military members also engage in sexual activities while on service. If a person has STD, they can spread it to another. The worst-case scenario is an outbreak.


As you have read, the answer to,” Can you join the military with an STD?” is yes, unless the STD is HIV or too severe. You will be tested for HIV at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), and immediately disqualified if found positive. Other STDs like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis will not disqualify you from serving.

Hopefully, this blog post has given you the answer you are looking for. If you still have follow-up questions, feel free to reach out to us in the comments down below.

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