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Child at school
Feb 26, 2007

I am a teacher in a preschool classroom. It has come to my attention that one of our students is HIV positive the parents did not disclose this information, however. I have no intention of invading their privacy but I would like to arm myself with information. (Small children love to kiss each other's "boo-boos", etc.) Is there anything I should be aware of to help her in case of injury? To protect the other 3-6 year olds in the room?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Good questions. The best information you can arm yourself with is information about transmission written directly to elementary school personnel, because it takes children's typical behavior into account.

The best way to help, in my opinion, is to teach children what to do about blood--anyone's. Small children need to know that they should not touch someone else's blood (including kissing boo-boos), and that if they see someone bleeding, their job is to alert an adult right away. When the adult shows up, the adult should model responsible behavior around blood by gloving before touching anyone.

They can learn that Band-Aids and other kinds of bandages have two jobs: to keep the wound clean and to keep blood off of other people and surfaces. There are lots of creative ways to work this information into lesson plans, including finger painting the right way to do things, so the message gets into muscles as well as into brains.

If the child herself is injured, please be sure that no one, including you, touches her blood without latex or comparable gloves on. If she bleeds onto a classroom surface, be sure the blood is cleaned up by someone who is wearing gloves and uses soapy water. (Bleaches and disinfectants make people feel better about such cleanup, but they're not necessary: soap and water will do the job.) If you make a point of telling the children not to touch her when she's bleeding, be sure you do the same with every other child in your care if that child bleeds. Your care of her should be no different. Ordinary barrier first aid is adequate protection.

If a child does get upset and does get blood on his or her own hands, send someone with the child right away to watch the child wash off the blood with soap and water, before those hands find eyes, nose or mouth.

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