Boy with HIV expelled from childcare

Last updated 20:35 09/05/2012

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A young boy has been expelled from a Whangarei childcare centre because he has HIV, the New Zealand Aids Foundation says.

The move by the childcare centre has created hysteria in the community, the New Zealand Aids Foundation says.

It is understood the boy's siblings, who are at school, are also being discriminated against, even though they don't have the disease.

The boy, who is believed to be aged four, cries every day "because he wants to go play with his friends and can't understand why," his grandmother Angela told Campbell Live.

"This is a lonely illness."

Angela said her grandson contracted HIV from his mother during birth.

She said his mother decided to tell the centre he had HIV on April 24, and were told two days later "we don’t want him here".

The New Zealand Aids Foundation (NZAF) says the centre's decision was not due to a lack of awareness or education, as it had been working with it to help them understand that the boy posed no risk to other children.

HIV cannot be transmitted through children playing together, sharing toys, toilets or eating utensils, touching each other or hugging, the organisation said.

"The NZAF, community members and doctors have all spoken to them on the phone, given them information and materials and been to hui with them.

"They’ve been very well informed but the sad fact is, the management team don’t want to know that there is no risk whatsoever to the other children, they’d prefer to persecute this child and create hysteria in the community," NZAF executive director Shaun Robinson said.

“The childcare centre management have chosen to exclude this boy from childcare centre – which should be some of his happiest days – because he’s living with HIV."

Robinson said the reason why the boy's family may not have initially told the child care centre that he had HIV was because of the fear of discrimination, which is the "single biggest issue" facing New Zealanders living with HIV today.

"We’d like people to be able to disclose that their child has HIV when they enrol at a childcare centre but it’s a sad fact that many people don’t feel safe or supported enough to do that because they fear that their child will be ostracised, picked on or expelled – all the things that have happened to this family in Whangarei.
 
"All children deserve an education, friends, playtime and fun.”

He said effective medications which have been available since the mid-1990s lower the amount of HIV in a person’s body but do not cure it.

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They do, however, reduce the level of HIV in the boy’s blood to a level where it is undetectable when tested and have also greatly reduced the possibility of people being able to transmit HIV to others - even when involving blood.

Angela says there has been no instances of any children passing on the disease to another child at a child care centre or school.

"So why, why are we here?"  
 
Campbell Live decided to not name the childcare centre the boy attends.

- Fairfax Media

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