If a school-age child has AIDS, who needs to know?

A bill that has passed the Illinois House would repeal state law stating that principals and superintendents must be notified. “We know more (than we used to) about HIV and AIDS, and we know how HIV and AIDS can be contracted,” said sponsoring State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) “We do know that universal precaution is the best measure for dealing with a person with HIV and AIDS.”

The “universal precaution,” as defined by the Illinois Department of Public Health, is to simply assume everybody could carry a blood-borne illness; for example, to always wear gloves, dispose of needles, etc.

Not everybody agrees: “The appropriate approach is not to not let the officials at the school know what’s going on,” said State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin), adding if your child had diabetes or epilepsy, you would inform the school. But another representative, State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded no case of anybody contracting AIDS in a school.

“Misunderstanding and stigmatization of a particular condition could cause a child to be treated differently – and mistreated – in a school setting,” she said.

H.B. 61 has passed the House, 61-55-1.


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