Ostracism of HIV-Positive Croatian Orphan Indicative of Misunderstanding of Disease
The AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday profiled a school in Kutina, Croatia, where parents are refusing to send their children to class because one of the students is HIV-positive. The case "underscores the myths and prejudices that persist about the disease," according to the AP/Times-Dispatch. Eight-year-old Ela -- who was born HIV-positive and was adopted by the Oblak family after her parents died -- is one of only four students who have attended her class at Kutina Elementary School. Although the Croatian government has sent a team of medical experts to Kutina to conduct daily seminars on AIDS to explain how HIV is spread, few parents have attended. Doctors have told parents that HIV is unlikely to be spread through casual contact, but they have also said that students in the class are asked to "constantly wash their hands and not bite each other or play with sharp pencils," according to Ana Jerbic, who has refused to send her son to Ela's class. According to psychologist Mirjana Krizmanic, Croatian residents' misunderstanding of HIV/AIDS might be due to the country's relatively small number of HIV cases. According to the Times-Dispatch, fewer than 300 Croats are HIV-positive (Brcic, AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.