A six-year-old boy in eastern India was forced to leave school because of fears that he was HIV positive after his father was discovered to have been infected, newspapers reported on Wednesday.
The boy, Sourav Majhi, had his name struck off the rolls days after he was admitted to the school in a village in West Bengal state’s Midnapore district, despite a health certificate proving he was not infected.
“The secretary of the school came to our house…he claimed that he knew I was an AIDS patient and so would not allow Sourav to continue in school,” the boy’s father, Debashis Majhi, was quoted as saying in the Indian Express.
“We showed them Sourav’s health certificate which clearly states that he does not have the disease. But the authorities remained adamant, insisting that my boy is an AIDS patient and therefore would not be allowed to attend school,” he said.
The newspaper said Majhi, who was diagnosed as HIV positive two years ago and works for a government project on HIV/AIDS, has lodged a complaint against the government-aided private school with the ministry of health, the newspaper said.
UNAIDS, the United Nation’s AIDS-prevention agency, recently said India has the highest number of HIV infections in the world, with an estimated 5.7 million people living with the virus.
There have been reports in the past of HIV/AIDS patients being ostracised by communities and of schools turning away infected children in other parts of the country.
Revision date: July 4, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD