Monday, June 9, 2008

Too Nice?

Dear Pastor,
I am writing because of a phone call Jeremiah received today from Pastor X regarding JA. After several questions about his medical condition, he asked Jeremiah if he was ever tested for HIV. I know that Jeremiah answered accordingly, but was very upset, as am I, that this would even be asked such questions about the children we care for. After I spoke to Jeremiah about this, I did some research about what legal rights the church or the community may have regarding JA’s test results. Although he is indeed HIV negative, I thought I might pass this on to you so that you can be informed on what the law says about disclosing HIV status to others. I know that X stated that he needed to know in case other people asked and I believe that he, or anyone else with this knowledge, needs to tell them that they have no legal right to disclose that information. Here are some legal rights that children have regarding this issue:

If my child is HIV positive, does the school or day care center have the right to know?
No. A school or day care center does not have the right to know the HIV status of its enrolled children and cannot ask whether your child is HIV-positive. Parents may choose to inform school staff, like a school nurse or a teacher, of their child's HIV status. If you decide to disclose your child's HIV status to certain school staff, you should make it clear to those staff that they may not legally disclose your child's HIV status to other school staff, students, or parents without your consent. If any child is injured, the day care center or teacher is required to follow universal precautions when treating the child to protect against disease or infection, regardless of whether it is known that the child is HIV-positive. If a school or day care center is aware of a child's HIV status, law from treating that child differently is discriminating against the child.

Your rights may be violated if another person discloses your HIV/AIDS status to other people without your consent.

I am not aware of any other parents who use the nursery who were asked if their children have HIV or any other diseases. I am not sure if we were asked because of JA’s medical condition, or because of his special needs, his nationality or his race. HIV is not spread through cuts, sores or dirty diapers so no child would be at risk IF he were HIV positive.

We bring you this information so that if this situation arises again at church, you would have an awareness of the laws, in order to protect the church and staff from possible discrimination/litigation issues. We must remember to first treat EACH child as a child of God. I saw this video on YouTube about a pastor in Africa dealing with HIV. It is very moving.


One Crowded House said...

I am sorry you had to deal with this :(

but I think you are handling it wonderfully...


Nina said...

Maybe a bit too nice, but very good. I might focus a line or two on the fact that people in charge at the church should ALREADY know the law (and the ADA)and that it isn't very godly to judge others...

Me said...

Argh! You handled that much better than I would have.

Mama D.'s Dozen said...

Hi Kim,

Somehow, I had missed this post, and just read it.

I had heard a few details about this situation, and would like to invite you to visit our church any time. :) We have many children in our kid's programs that have arrived from Africa this year, so I know that both of your boys would be welcomed with open arms.

Good to see you briefly at the grocery store recently.