Parents Boycott India School After HIV Kids Allowed Back
June 26, 2007
The battle of a group of HIV-positive children to attend school in the southern Indian state of Kerala continues. The latest twist in the six-month saga came last week when the Christian school allowed them to return to class but parents of fellow students pulled their kids out of class.
"Among the 65 students on our rolls, only three children came to school on June 21 and the next day none turned up," said Principal Elsamma Mani. As of Monday, the school remained closed "as no students turned up to attend class," said Mani.
The plight of the children, one boy and four girls ages 5-11, highlights the stigma facing those living with HIV/AIDS in India. While officials have assured parents that HIV is not transmitted by sitting next to or touching an infected person, suspicion lingers.
"I will not let my children attend classes with the HIV-positive children, come what may," said one irate mother. A father questioned why the shelter where the children live had not admitted them into its school if there was no transmission risk. Only three of the five children are HIV-infected, but all are living at the shelter for infected mothers. According to the Hindustan Times, parents called for the children's expulsion after a photo of them attending a World AIDS Day event ran in a local paper.
State officials pledged to continue to work to ensure that the children are allowed back in school. "I hope that the villagers will realize their mistake and accept the children," said M.A. Baby, Kerala's education minister.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.