Tuesday, December 01, 2009

And So It Goes ... Happy AIDS Day Everyone!

By SETH MYDANS - via The New York Times
Published: October 13, 2009

AN NHON TAY, Vietnam — The first day of school was a special one last month for the 15 children from the Mai Hoa orphanage here. They are infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, and for the first time they would be allowed to attend the local primary school. “The children were so excited,” said Sister Nguyen Thi Bao, who runs the orphanage and had been lobbying for three years to enroll them in the government school. “They had been wishing for this day to come.”

But when they arrived, they found an uprising by the parents of the other students, who refused to let their children enter the school together with the infected orphans. Some of the parents hastily backed away when the orphans walked past.

After a short standoff, the principal, who had agreed to accept the orphans, told Sister Bao that their papers were not in order and that they could not stay.

The children returned to the orphanage, just a short walk down a country road, where they continue to study in small classrooms, still exiled from the uninfected world.

... About 290,000 people in Vietnam, a country of 86 million, carry H.I.V. today, and Mr. Murphy said that although the rate of increase was slowing, the infection was spreading outside high-risk groups.

Among those infected, the government estimates that 5,100 are children. Although the law requires equal treatment, almost none of them have been accepted in schools because of the fears of other children’s parents, Nguyen Vinh Hien, the deputy minister of education, said last month.

read the story here.

By Todd A. Heywood 11/10/09 -via The Michigan Messenger

An HIV-positive Macomb County (Michigan) man is facing charges created under Michigan’s 2004 terrorism laws for biting another man in a neighborhood scuffle. That, HIV advocates, state lawmakers and legal experts say is “cowardly” and “nonsense” and increases ignorance and stigma surrounding the virus.

...“Is this a dangerous instrumentality? It’s like saying that because I breathed on you and I have tuberculosis and we are fighting, that somehow because I have this disease it suddenly becomes more than just that I have this disease,” said Meadows, a former assistant attorney general. “The other charges are more than sufficient to deal with the issues involved.”

HIV experts say it is a near impossibility to spread HIV through a human bite.

“Even if you accepted that as a transmission case,” said Catherine Hanssens, executive director of the New York City-based Center for HIV Law and Policy. The charges against Allen, she said, simply aren’t warranted. “It’s just nonsense. It’s cowardly. It’s the kind of thing that keeps kids [with HIV] out of day care and camps and allows kids [with HIV] to be kicked out of karate case.”

She said cases like Allen’s are proof that the nation is failing to address the epidemic with common sense. “It’s continuing the boogey-man characterization of people with HIV,” she said.

read the story here.

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