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Veterans Benefits AdministrationM21-1, Part III - page 48 / 71





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M21-1, Part IIIFebruary 25, 2005 Change 131

5.15  ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME (AIDS).  AIDS is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as "a disease at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell-mediated immunity occurring in a person with no known cause for diminished resistance to that disease."  AIDS is caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

a.  Testing Procedures.  The most commonly used lab test for AIDS is the HIV antibody test.  Two antibody tests are available:  the screening ELISA test and the confirmatory Western Blot.

b.  Development

(1)  If service medical records are not on file, request them.  The veteran may submit current records of treatment by a private physician or hospital.  If the veteran indicates treatment at a VA medical center or outpatient clinic, request those records.

(2)  If a substantially complete claim exists, send the claim to the rating activity.

5.16  EX-PRISONER OF WAR CASES.  See chapter 4 to request service records for ex-prisoners of war (ex-POWs).  If service records cannot be obtained, follow the procedures listed below.

a.  Action Required

(1)  Accept a veteran's statement regarding disabilities incurred as a POW unless inconsistent with other evidence.  Supporting statements from other comrades constitute medical evidence.  Discrepancies or deficiencies in the evidence require development.

(2)  If neither the service medical records received regarding examination immediately after POW confinement nor other service medical records support the alleged disabilities in the claim, ask the veteran to submit additional evidence.  Use a locally generated letter along the following lines:

“Since you were a prisoner of war and your service medical records do not clearly disclose all the disabilities you claim, any additional evidence you may be able to furnish will assist us in making a decision in your case.”

“For your claimed [specify conditions], it would be helpful to submit statements from fellow prisoners of war, servicepersons, veterans, doctors or other persons who had personal knowledge of the above disabilities in service or shortly thereafter, stating the dates and places of their observations and the circumstances under which these observations were made.  Statements of comrades must contain their name, rank, service number and organization.”

"If the evidence is not received within 60 days, your claim will be considered on the available evidence, if any, in your folder, unless you request an extension of time.  If you do not intend to or cannot submit any statements, notify us promptly so we do not unnecessarily delay action."

b.  Employability Information.  If the employment information submitted with a claim is incomplete,  and individual unemployability will be an issue for consideration by the rating activity, develop under paragraph 5.21 simultaneously with development for service medical records (par. 5.01) and medical evidence from nonservice sources (par. 5.03).  If medical evidence is in file, develop for employment history as above, and immediately refer the claim to the rating activity.


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