State Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) passed a measure out of the Senate today repealing an antiquated law that requires the disclosure of HIV-positive students to school principals for grades K-12. The previous law was implemented in 1987 when little was known about the disease and no treatments were available.
“AIDS and HIV research and treatment has grown considerably over the past 25 years since the original bill was passed,” Martinez said. “Unfortunately, the stigma and fear that has always been associated with AIDS and HIV still exists and there is a lot of misunderstanding of the disease.”
Between 2003 and 2009, the number of 13-19 year-olds diagnosed with HIV increased 50 percent, and rose 20 percent for youth ages 20 to 29. Yet, there is concern that the percentage of children and adolescents with HIV/AIDS could be higher but many are not tested due to fear of bullying and discrimination from students, parents and school personnel. Martinez’s bill is an effort to bring Illinois in line with the National AIDS Strategy, which emphasizes the importance of testing as an integral part of the prevention and spread of HIV.
“Due to other blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis A, B and C and their potential to spread easier, all school personnel must follow federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration precautions to avoid exposure to body fluids,” Martinez continued. “Studies have shown that HIV/AIDS does not spread through biting, sharing drinks, sports and other situations that are common in a school setting. So, there is no reason a child diagnosed with HIV/AIDS should be treated in an injury involving blood than any other child. In fact, with the advances in medication, today’s children living with HIV/AIDS live pretty normal lives.”
The measure, House Bill 61, has passed both chambers and now moves to Governor Quinn for his approval.