Indian Government Failing to Protect Children Affected by HIV/AIDS From Discrimination, Human Rights Watch Report Says
July 29, 2004
The Indian government is failing to protect HIV-positive children from discrimination, including expulsion from or segregation in schools, hospitals and orphanages, according to a Human Rights Watch report released on Wednesday, BBC News reports (BBC News, 7/29). The report, titled, "Future Forsaken: Abuses Against Children Affected by HIV/AIDS in India," says that the Indian government's failure to protect HIV-positive children and AIDS orphans from abuse or exploitation is undermining the country's strategy to fight the epidemic, according to Pakistan's Daily Times (Hasan, Daily Times, 7/28). The Indian National AIDS Control Organization says that there are approximately 60,000 HIV-positive children in the country, but independent groups say that the number could be closer to 100,000, according to the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution (George, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/28). In addition, there are about one million children in India who have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related causes, according to BBC News (BBC News, 7/29). Zama Coursen-Neff, the report's author, says that when a parent becomes sick due to AIDS-related illnesses, children often leave school to care for them or work to replace lost income , according to the AP/Journal-Constitution. "Children affected by HIV/AIDS are being discriminated against in education and health services, denied care by orphanages and pushed onto the streets and into the worst forms of child labor," Coursen-Neff said. In addition, physicians often refuse to treat or even touch HIV-positive children, and some children are expelled from school if their parents are HIV-positive, according to Coursen-Neff (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/29). Sexual violence and abuse and the "long-standing subordination" of women in Indian society make girls particularly vulnerable to HIV, the report says, according to BBC News (BBC News, 7/29). The report says that children affected by HIV/AIDS have been "nearly invisible" in the government's response to the epidemic, according to Reuters (Denyer, Reuters, 7/28).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.