South African Foster Mother Files Discrimination Lawsuit After HIV-Positive Toddler Rejected by Nursery School
Karen Pereira, a South African woman whose HIV-positive four-year-old foster daughter was denied admission to a nursery school after teachers learned of her HIV status, on Wednesday filed suit against the school in South Africa's High Court alleging that the child was "unfairly discriminated against," Reuters/Globe and Mail reports. According to Pereira's lawyer, Sharise Weiner, the Buccleuch Montessori Nursery School rejected Pereira's foster daughter Tholakele after a panel of teachers decided that the school was "not prepared to deal with HIV-infected children." The teachers, who did not consult with disease experts, said they feared that the virus could be transmitted to other students or teachers, especially through saliva. "There is no known case of transmission in schools, and HIV cannot be transmitted through day-to-day contact," Weiner said, noting that there is "virtually no chance" of HIV transmission through saliva or biting. "At this point it becomes an issue that we say amounts to discrimination. The school admitted it was not adequately equipped or educated about AIDS. That in itself amounts to unfair discrimination," Weiner added. The girl, who has had HIV since birth, was previously rejected by three other nursery schools on the basis of her HIV status. The South African Department of Education in 1998 issued a policy intended to protect the rights of HIV-positive children to obtain an education. Pereira's lawyers said that they hope the court finds that the school violated the girl's constitutional right to equality (Thomas, Reuters/Globe and Mail, 9/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.