Schools encouraged to take inclusive approach to HIV

Schools should include HIV issues in their general policies so
that HIV is treated in the same way as other medical conditions,
campaigners have urged.

A new guide for schools on supporting children living with HIV,
published this week by the National Children’s Bureau and the
Children and Young People’s HIV Network, says that parents
considering disclosure need to be reassured about the ethos of a
school and feel confident about its information-sharing and
confidentiality practices.

“As rates of HIV rise annually, this is an issue that
cannot be ignored,” the guide states. “By putting in
place a few simple systems, schools can protect and support these
more vulnerable pupils.”

It suggests including within the school mission statement a
commitment to supporting all pupils with medical needs. It should
also name a designated member of staff with whom parents can
confidentially discuss medical issues.

There are currently just over 1000 HIV-positive children under
19 living in the UK. An estimated 10,000 more children and young
people have a family member who is living with the disease.

The guide warns that failure to win parents’ trust could
result in a decision not to tell the school their child has HIV or
is affected by the illness. This could result in vulnerable
children missing out on the emotional and educational support they
might need.

“There has never been a documented case of HIV
transmission occurring in a school in the UK and having an infected
child in school poses no risk to staff or pupils,” stressed
network co-ordinator and author of the guide Magda Conway.
“The challenge is to create a supportive and inclusive
environment in which children can achieve their academic

Guide from

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