Discrimination from parents and schools
Doctor Nguyen Trong An, Deputy Head of the Department for Child Care and Protection under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) says that discriminatory behaviour towards HIV-positive children is becoming a hot issue at school as many parents do not want to see them mixed up with their children in the classrooms.
HCM City now has more than 4,000 children living with HIV including 2,000 under antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, but two thirds of them are not allowed to go to school because of social discrimination in the community.
According to the HCM City Committee for AIDS Prevention and Control, only 15 from the Mai Hoa centre, a charity centre for HIV-positive children, were admitted to the An Nhon Dong Primary School in Cu Chi district in 2009. However, they all faced a strong reaction from parents of other children and finally had to leave the school in tears.
In 2010, parents of children at a primary school in Nha Be district, HCM City strongly opposed the admittance of HIV-positive inmates and decided to send their children to other schools.
Doctor An says tests on HIV-positive children under ARV treatment show no signs of the HIV virus in their blood, and infection is very difficult to occur. The healthcare and education sectors have taken effective measures to prevent the school children from being infected with HIV virus and other contagious diseases, An noted.
Struggle for schooling
Many HIV infected orphans at the Linh Xuan Centre for Child Care and Sponsorship in Thu Duc district, HCM City are lucky to go to school with their friends of the same age.
Linh Xuan is now in charge of 137 children from newborn babies to 17 years old who are suffering the “double” pains of HIV infection and orphanhood.
First, second and third grade children from the centre are now allowed to take part in recreational activities run by the Children Cultural House of Thu Duc district while fourth and ninth graders can get further support from the centre to continue their studies and join other pupils in field trips.
Centre Director Nguyen Thi Kim Tien says that her centre really wants to send its inmates to other schools with the aim of helping them integrate into the community and gain access to general educational programmes. However, it is very difficult to get permission from these schools which are so worried about their HIV status.
Pham Thi Be, Head of the Centre’s Education Management Department says that thanks to consultancy from the centre, many parents have taken it easier to see disadvantaged children including those infected by HIV enjoy equal rights like other children in society.
Linh Xuan recently sent 26 of its inmates to the Xuan Hiep primary school and Xuan Truong secondary school in Thu Duc district and all of them have been studying well.
The dream of going to school is a legitimate right of children living with HIV as they are not to blame for what they have suffered from their parents. To help HIV infected children integrate into the community, every parent should be fully aware of their HIV status and have no grudge against them.