Chapter 9 - HIV and AIDS AND THE LAW
HIV and Aids can affect children in the following ways:
Children who have HIV or whose parents are ill because of HIV or AIDS are often shunned and discriminated against by people in the community. Many suffer from neglect or are abandoned as babies. There are many examples of children being refused access to crèches, schools and bursaries. Orphans of parents who have died from AIDS are particularly vulnerable and many survive in child-headed households. Many of them turn to crime, drugs, or to the streets in order to survive.
How are children protected by the law?
Children are protected by various international, regional and local human rights documents and these are some of their major rights.
All children have the right to basic education. If a child is stopped from going to school because of his or her HIV status, this is unlawful and can be challenged in court. Learners with HIV should also not be denied the opportunity to reach their full potential so they should not be treated differently to other learners. It is important to remember that HIV is never passed on through casual contact. It is very difficult for children of any age to get HIV from contact at school. Therefore the risks of infection of other children cannot be used as a reason to exclude children with HIV from a school.
Parents do not have to tell the school authorities if their child has HIV, even if the school asks them to fill this in on the application form. Schools are also not allowed to test learners for HIV before they are admitted to the school or while they are at school. A learner cannot be tested for HIV without his or her consent (if over 14 years and/or parents or guardians consent if younger than 14 years.)
With the increasing numbers of learners and teachers becoming infected with HIV and Aids, it is important for all schools to have an HIV/AIDS policy so that:
The Department of Education has drafted a national policy on the management of HIV/AIDS in schools. School governing bodies should develop and adopt their own policies but these must be in line with the principles in the national policy. They should do this in consultation with the wider school community. A schools AIDS policy should include guidelines to the following:
Children's health and medical rights & HIV and AIDS
Rules regarding testing and confidentiality for children include:
Adoption and fostering and HIV/AIDS
The Child Welfare will not allow someone to adopt a child before they have gone through a medical examination which includes an HIV test. The following people must have an HIV test before adoption can happen:
Fostering is usually for a short period so children are not tested for HIV before they are fostered.
Remember the following points when dealing with cases of adoption or fostering :
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