On June 1, a school in Shanxi Province announced a separate test venue for a group of 16 HIV-positive students in the upcoming national college entrance examination that will take place next week, the Global Times reports. The school, Linfen Red Ribbon School, is so far the only facility in China that provides education and other medical treatments to children who are HIV positive. The school was founded in 2011 by a retired doctor, Guo Xiaoping 郭小平, who argued that HIV-infected children need to visit the hospital frequently for treatments and blood tests and thus would miss classes at regular schools. Initially an informal classroom in a vacant ward of Linfen No. 3 People’s Hospital, the facility expanded and moved to a 60,000-square-meter campus in the suburbs of Linfen in 2012 with financial support from the local government. The school now has 33 HIV positive students ranging from elementary to high school and a staff of 18. According to Newsweek, most children studying and living at this school contracted HIV through their mothers and were abandoned by their parents.
The decision to segregate HIV-positive students from other exam takers during the tests generated mixed reactions on Chinese social media, with some arguing that the separation will increase the general public’s discrimination against HIV carriers. On the social platform Weibo, one commenter wrote (in Chinese): “These children deserve to be treated equally. For those parents who feel uncomfortable to let their healthy children take the exam in the same room with these kids, do they know that the HIV virus cannot be transmitted by air?” Another stated, “Those who pay lip service online will very likely refuse to even hug a HIV carrier in reality.” In response to the dispute, Guo told the Global Times, “It is more of a protection measure for the kids rather than discrimination as some people have said online.”
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