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7,000 Romanian Children With HIV Face Bias August 7, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in 7000, AIDS, Bias, Card, Child, Children, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, communist, dentist, Discrimination, HIV, HIV-positive, Human Rights, Kid, Kids, medicine, privacy, Romania, Romanian.

Many of the 7,000 Romanian youngsters with the HIV virus do not attend school, do not have access to dentists or the right medicine and their privacy is violated, according to a Human Rights Watch report on discrimination released Wednesday.

“Forty percent of the HIV youngsters are not in school. The discrimination against those whose status is known is so great that many face daily harassment by teachers and fellow students. In some cases they have been expelled from school,” said Clarisa Bemondo, researcher for children’s rights in Europe and Central Asia for the New-York based Human Rights Watch.

By law, children have to attend school until the age of 16 in Romania, but in the case of HIV-positive students the law is not enforced, Bemondo said. “Romania has good laws for child protection but they are not enforced from above.”

The report cited cases of dentists who refused to treat HIV positive children, and other HIV positive young patients who were unable to get free medicine because pharmacies did not stock them. She said some youngsters did not report they had HIV because local authorities publicly identified them.

The findings were based on research carried out in February and June. Rights officials met with HIV positive children, non-governmental groups and government officials, Bemondo said. Romania has half the HIV-positive children in Europe.

There was no immediate reaction from the government to the report.

However Dr Adrian Streinu Cercel, who coordinates Romania’s AIDS program, disputed the magnitude of the problem. “It is possible that there are dentists that don’t treat HIV patients, and schools where there is discrimination, and local authorities that don’t respect the right to privacy, but it not a widespread phenomenon.”

More than 7,000 Romanian children who were infected between 1987 and 1990 because the communist regime made it a practice to reuse syringes and give transfusions of untested blood.

HIV-positive patients are eligible for a disability allowance, but only 3,000 youngsters are claiming it due to fear they would be ostracized if people in the community found out about the illness, the report said.

Source: CBS News

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