HIV boy's siblings kept home from school

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 20:32 15/05/2012

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A Northland school asked for the siblings of a boy with HIV to be kept home for two days after a tense meeting with some parents.

The four-year-old was allegedly excluded from his Whangarei kindergarten because he had the virus, causing nationwide outrage last week.

Mokopuna Early C E and Care Centre, run by He Puna Marama Trust, asked the boy's mother in late April to remove her son after she told them he was HIV-positive.

Whau Valley Primary principal Robert Clarke said two of the boy’s siblings attended his school, where the boy himself will go once he turns five.

Around 20 parents approached Clarke in pairs or small groups on Wednesday after the news broke, to discuss the issue.

“Two of those people, not a couple, made me feel a little bit uncomfortable and uneasy. So I made the professional decision to go and see [the boy’s] parents and say can you hold your kiddies at home for a couple of days,” Clarke said.

"They were ok with that, and it gave me time to consider things and get hold of stakeholders for a care plan meeting on Friday.”

Clarke would not elaborate on what it was that the parents said that made him remove the children from school.

“But there was a tense environment, and there shouldn’t have been.”

A care plan was developed for when the boy joins the school on Friday, and the siblings were back at school today.

Clarke said he will be taking advice from the New Zealand Aids Foundation and the Ministry of Health about any plans for the future.

"There possibly needs to be better education about general blood-borne conditions out there, not just HIV but hepatitis and things like that as well. It can’t just be taken for granted that people know about that.”

However, he said he was unsure it was the school’s role to educate people. The Government should possibly provide funding for groups like NZAF, he said

The controversy that erupted last week has since resulted in a resulted in a war of words, with NZAF saying the centre had expelled the boy and He Puna Marama Trust chief executive Raewyn Tipene disputing that.

The trust is now preparing to take legal action over "untrue" claims made by the Aids Foundation, which Ms Tipene said were an attempt to boost its funding.

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- Fairfax Media

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