HIV positive kids in class



Let’s face it - everybody is either affected or infected by HIV and Aids. But instead of reacting fearfully and packing your bags to leave, why don’t we create a supportive and life affirming environment for children in the classroom?
Debunking some myths
The sad truth
The reality
Tips for teachers
  • Your attitude speaks. Be aware of your own values and beliefs, because what you believe, feel and do in the classroom fill a classroom with either a supportive or judgmental atmosphere.
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  • Trade fear for love. Do not be fearful if there might be a child with HIV/AIDS in the classroom. Teaching with love and acceptance has turned around the lives of many a child where the odds were stacked against them. 
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  • Sameness soothes. Research has shown time and again that a sense of belonging gives the immune system a boost. There is comfort in a sense of belonging, not being different or being singled out. Start a clothes bank for school uniforms and sivy clothes where children who attend the same school can blend in.
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  • During life skills talk about contagious diseases like mumps and measles, HIV and Aids. Talk about the steps they have to take to stay healthy and to protect other people. Demonstrate these skills by following the correct procedure when you treat a child’s bleeding wound for example.
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  • Teach with pizazz. Children learn more when they are engaged, involved and having fun while learning to think and to make responsible decisions.
Treat all children in a humane and life-affirming way
HIV and Aids is not the same thing, someone can be HIV-positive without having Aids. HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and in some cases, breast milk. HIV is not transmitted through touching or hugging.An HIV-positive child cannot spread HIV through sitting next to or playing together or using the same dishes and spoons.
Most children with HIV and AIDS were infected by their mothers. Their parents often become ill or die when the children are still very young, which leaves these children emotionally vulnerable and without the physical and intellectual care needed to thrive.
You might also want to read this article on sanitation in schools.
It is not compulsory to disclose a child's HIV/AIDS status to the school. A helpful attitude is to treat all children in the same way - wash your hands before and after changing a nappy; follow standard infection-precautionary measures and good hygiene practices under all circumstances.

Resources
Professor Lesley Wood Dealing with HIV and AIDS in the Classroom, published by Juta Academic.
UNGASS (March 31 2010) South Africa UNGASS Country Progress Report. Wood, L. 2008. Dealing with HIV and Aids in the Classroom. Cape Town: Juta.