Cultural Stigma Trumps Government Policy on HIV/AIDS Infected Kids' Right to School in Vietnam
"Under Vietnam’s HIV/AIDS laws, no child can be denied access to a school if either they or any of their family is living with HIV or AIDS. Vietnam’s laws on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control are comprehensive but are not widely known. Public prejudice against HIV/AIDS infected people also stems from the fact that historically, it has been associated with drug users and prostitutes. Combined with the public attitude and lack of awareness, this has led to children with HIV being discriminated against in schools. As a result of pressure from other students’ parents, most schools have refused to allow these children to study alongside ‘normal’ children. Most of these children who are stigmatized belong to low-income families or orphanages."
"Despite the country having one of the most stringent set of legislation and policy on HIV/AIDS in the world, such prejudice still exists mainly due to public perception and insufficient awareness-building efforts. In fact, the government has had to ask for help from international organizations to help Vietnam in its efforts to combat the malaise."
Implications from IFTF:
Sobering reminder of how policy change does not necessarily mean cultural change. (And that policy change may not mean any real change at all, if there are no means of enforcement).
Sources:SFG Feb 2011: