Stigma hurts kids with HIV

Widespread discrimination is a fact of life for many of the more than 7 000 Romanian youngsters infected with HIV, the virus that causes Aids, says a report released this week by New York-based Human Rights Watch.

It said many of the youngsters don't attend school and don't have access to proper medicines or dental care, the Associated Press reported.

Under Romanian law, children are required to attend school until they are 16 years old. But that law is not enforced for children with HIV.

"Forty percent of the HIV youngsters are not in school. The discrimination against those whose status is known is so great that many face daily harassment by teachers and fellow students. In some cases, they have been expelled from school," said Clarissa Bemondo, a Human Rights Watch researcher for children's rights.

In some cases, dentists refuse to treat children with HIV, the report said. Some HIV-positive kids can't get free medicine because pharmacies won't stock the drugs, the AP reported.

While HIV-positive patients in Romania are eligible for a disability allowance, only about 3 000 of the HIV-positive children in the country claim it. Others don't want to because they fear they'll be ostracised if people in their community learn they have HIV, the report said. – (HealthDayNews)

Read more:
HIV/Aids Centre

August 2006

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