Milton Hershey School in Pennslyvania has rejected a 13-year-old-honor student because he is HIV positive.
This week, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania filed suit on behalf of the student, claiming the school is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“What they did was wrong,” the student told Philadelphia`s WCAU. “They put me through emotional distress. I feel that no other teenager should go through this, being denied just because they have HIV.”
The student is an athlete who is taking drugs to keep the HIV in check.
m just horrified, but unfortunately, not surprised,” New York State Senator Todd Duane, who is also HIV positive, told Dr. Drew Tuesday night. “Theres still terrible stigma and discrimination and ignorance about HIV and how it is spread."
Dr. Drew added, “there
s even another level to this ignorance that were seeing here, which is that we live in a time now when HIV is a highly treatable chronic condition where the viral load, the amount of virus circulating in a patient
s blood can be suppressed so low that even with intimate contact, theyre barely infectious. So there`s a whole other level of ignorance going on here."
Dr. Drew also noted that if the school has a problem with unrestrained sexual activity or injection drug use, then that's the problem that would really need to be addressed.
A spokesperson for the school recently spoke to Anderson Cooper on CNN.
“The key issue for us comes down to sexual activity," said Connie McNamara, vice president of communications for Milton Hershey. "We know that teenagers nationwide, a significant number are sexually active. Our students are no different than any other teenagers. On our campus, in our unique controlled environment, if one of our students is engaging in sexual activity, the odds are it is with another of our students. And we have parental responsibility for those, all of those children ... We acknowledge this is a difficult decision and we are very happy the court will be deciding on this."
Dr. Drew reacted, saying, “if the kids are having unrestrained sexual activity on campus, they have a bigger problem."
Ronda Goldfein, the attorney representing the student in the suit and executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania , says the school doesn`t have a defense.
“The law is clear that you can
t segregate out kids simply because they have HIV,” she said. "Kids can go to school with other kids. Kids can go to camp with other kids. The idea that theres something unique about the Hershey School, which is a fine, prestigious school and we`re all surprised by their behavior in this manner, but the idea that Milton Hershey School thinks risk somehow changes after dark is really absurd."
Milton Hershey School was invited to participate in the show’s discussion, but they had declined.
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