Martinez Ends Mandatory HIV/AIDS Disclosure in Schools

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationState Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago 20th) applauded the governor’s signing of legislation she sponsored to repeal an antiquated HIV/AIDS law. The law, which required the status of HIV-positive students to be disclosed to K-12 principals, was implemented in 1987, when little was known about the disease and no treatments were available.

“There is an outdated stigma associated with HIV/AIDS that even 25 years of medical progress and education haven’t erased,” Martinez said. “Injuries in our schools that involve blood and other bodily fluids are always treated with extreme care and using procedures recommended by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”
Between 2003 and 2009, the number of 13-19-year-olds diagnosed with HIV increased by 50 percent and rose by 20 percent among youth ages 20-29. Advocates are concerned that the percentage of children and adolescents with HIV/AIDS could be even higher but that many youth do not get tested because they fear bullying and discrimination from students, parents and school personnel. Martinez’s measure is an effort to bring Illinois in line with the National AIDS Strategy, which emphasizes testing as an integral part of preventing the spread of HIV.

“Children with HIV/AIDS can now live relatively normal lives, but discrimination by classmates, teachers and school administrators makes it difficult to feel normal,” Martinez said. “It’s time to end this outmoded policy in our schools.”

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