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AHF-India Cares to Speak Out against India School over HIV/AIDS Discrimination-Feb 15th

February 13, 2012
Business Wire - February 13, 2012

A teacher at a school in the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu sent 12-year old student home after discovering the youth was HIV-positive. Discrimination case parallels similar high profile case in U.S. where administrators at prestigious Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania denied admission to 13-year old scholarship student after discovering he was HIV-positive At press conference at Delhi Press Club, Indian and U.S. AIDS advocates will denounce the discrimination and call for fair treatment of all boys and girls in Indian schools.

NEW DELHI - AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, together with its partners at AHF-India Cares, will host a press conference in New Delhi at the Delhi Press Club on Wednesday February 15th at 11am local time to speak out against a recent and high profile case of HIV/AIDS discrimination in India. On February 7, 2012, several local news outlets including the Times of India[] and India Today[] reported on the case of a 12-year old boy in Madurai who was sent home from school after his teacher discovered he was HIV-positive. According the India Today news report, "A school in Tamil Nadu's Madurai district barred entry to a 12-year old student after discovering that he was HIV positive. The boy alleged that the teacher started discriminating against him after going through a notebook that spelt out his treatment details. 'The teacher told me not to sit near other students and she instructed other students also to avoid me. It hurt me and I informed my mother,' the boy said...The matter came to light after the boy's mother went to seek help from an NGO, Madurai Network of Positive People." WHAT: U.S. and Indian AIDS advocates speak out against HIV/AIDS discrimination at Madurai school WHEN: Wednesday, February 15th 11:00 AM WHERE: Press Club of India 1, Raisina Rd, New Delhi - 110 001, India WHO: Dr. Shibu Cheruvelil, Country Program Manager/AHF India Cares Terri Ford, Senior Director of Global Advocacy and Policy/AHF Dr. Abdul Ghaffar, Director of Sun Shine Health & Social Welfare Society Daisy David, Advocacy Officer HIV/AIDS/World Vision and Tamil Nadu Positive Networks Dr.(Flt Lt) M.A. Balasubramanya, CEO/ Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) CONTACT: Dr. Abul Kalam Azad, Director of Strategic Planning, AHF/India +91 9891943796 / "The blatant discrimination and ignorance displayed by this teacher and school officials in Madurai in this case is simply unacceptable," said Dr. Shibu Cheruvelil, AHF/India Country Program Manager. "This was a decision fueled by prejudice and fear. We denounce this illegal and repugnant discrimination and immediately ask that officials in Madurai and throughout India institute policies which will protect all children from stigmatization and humiliation." This case parallels a similar high profile school AIDS discrimination case in the United States in which administrators at the prestigious Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania--a school funded by the multinational chocolate and candy maker, the Hershey Company--denied admission to a 13-year old scholarship student after discovering he was HIV-positive.

According to the Associated Press (Claim: Hershey School Rejects HIV-Positive Pa. Boy, By Peter Jackson, 12/1/11): "A private boarding school connected with the Hershey chocolate company says it was trying to protect other students when it denied admission to a Philadelphia-area teenager because he is HIV-positive. The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit on behalf of the unidentified boy in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on Wednesday, claiming the Milton Hershey School for disadvantaged students violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. School officials acknowledged that the 13-year-old boy was denied admission because of his medical condition. They said they believed it was necessary to protect the health and safety of the 1,850 others enrolled in the residential institution, which serves children in pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and where students live in homes with 10 to 12 others." "It is unfortunate that the Hershey School in the U.S. and this teacher and school officials in Madurai in India each show such a shocking lack of knowledge of the basic facts about HIV and how it is spread, and are instead reacting with ignorance and prejudice," said Terri Ford, Senior Director of Global Advocacy and Policy for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "In 2012, after 30 years of HIV/AIDS, we should all know the basic facts of safety and transmission. This young boy in Madurai is not a threat to his classmates, just as the child in the United States at the Hershey school is not. The bigger threat is the perpetuation of stigma and discrimination. Tolerance and acceptance should be modeled by teachers and elders." "We believe that this is an excellent opportunity to educate the public about HIV including the fact that people who are living with HIV/AIDS do not pose a significant risk to others and generally do not require any special medical attention that cannot be obtained through normal medical visits," said Dr. Abdul Ghaffar, Director of Sun Shine Health & Social Welfare Society. "In addition, people should know that recent studies have shown that people with HIV on treatment are up to 96% non-infectious. Because of this, those on treatment are not a threat to health and safety of others." AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 125,000 individuals in 26 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. Contacts INDIA media contacts: AHF/India Dr. Shibu Cheruvelil County Program Manager +91 9654345722 or AHF Terri Ford Senior Director, Global Policy and Advocacy +1213 399 1001 or LOS ANGELES Media Contact AIDS Healthcare Foundation Ged Kenslea Communications Director +1.323.308.1833 [work] +1.323.791.5526 [cell]