New Delhi January 27: AIDS is a serious condition that weakens the body's immune system, leaving it unable to fight off illness.
AIDS is the last stage in a progression of diseases resulting from a viral infection known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The diseases include a number of unusual and severe infections, cancers and debilitating illnesses, resulting in severe weight loss or wasting away, and diseases affecting the brain and central nervous system.
Denial of admission, outright expulsion, segregation, breach of confidentiality to cleaning toilets and classrooms. These are some of the ways schools treat children living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
The treatment meted out to HIV-positive children, whose deaths account for 7% of all AIDS-related deaths in the country, is part of a writ petition filed by NGO Naz Foundation (India) Trust in the Supreme Court.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar has sought the government’s response on why — despite the Right to Education being a Fundamental Right — children suffer this way.
According to the NACO estimates in 2012-2013, the total number of people living with HIV is estimated at 20.9 lakh in 2011. Children under 15 years account for seven per cent (1.45 lakh) of all infections.
"India has a substantial number of HIV-positive children who are of school-going age and need to be in school. Schools can play a crucial role in improving the prospects of children affected by HIV. A good school education can give children higher self-esteem, better job prospects, and economic independence and create opportunities for lifting children out of poverty," the NGO, represented by senior advocate Anand Grover and Purushottam Sharma Tripathi, argued.
The petition takes a leaf out of the lives of many HIV-affected children who act as both caregivers and breadwinners for their sick parent(s) as well as for their younger siblings.
"They are publicly ridiculed by school authorities, humiliated and treated unfairly in schools, to the extent that they have been segregated from other children in schools and have been made to clean toilets and classrooms," the petition stated.
This discriminatory and degrading treatment is a direct assault on the children's privacy, autonomy, and dignity under Articles 21, 21A and 14 , the plea contended.