Indian, US experts ask schools to end HIV-AIDS discrimination

Indian, US experts ask schools to end HIV-AIDS discrimination

To raise public awareness about the increasing incidents of discrimination being meted out to the HIV-infected students in schools, experts from the US and India launched a nationwide initiative in New Delhi on Wednesday. 

Health advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) held a conference in the backdrop of a Madurai school case where a teacher discriminated against a 12-year-old student after discovering that he was HIV positive. 

Drawing parallels with a high-profile case in the US where administrators of prestigious Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania had denied admission to a 13-year-old student on similar grounds, the experts condemned the Madurai incident, terming it as discrimination stemming from ignorance and prejudice. 

Commenting on the Madurai case, Daisy David, advocacy officer of HIV/AIDS with World Vision, said the student was discriminated after the teacher found about his treatment details entered for the ID purpose.

“This is not the first case. Recently, a group of students had to face similar humiliation at the hands of a school at Kancheepuram,” said Daisy, who has been living with HIV since 12 years.

She said how she was kept out of the mainstream functions in the school where her own daughter is in class Xl. 

Terri Ford, senior director of global policy, US AHF, stressed the need to develop a strong support mechanism to ensure implementation of Right to Education with the help of new policies.

He said, “We would like to empower the HIV positive community so that they can share their experiences with children and sensitise school authorities.” 

Dr Shibu Cheruvelil, AHF India Country Programme Manager called for a nationwide movement to raise awareness levels in the public as similar cases were being reported from different parts of India and other Asian countries.