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Mukhaio Nozimova: Most of the respondents, among whom were many pupils, said they do not mind sitting at the same desk with HIV-infected peer at school

The achievements of modern medicine provide HIV-infected children with a full and healthy life. Like any other children, these children need caring and loving families and sympathetic society that will help them grow and mature.
in Tajik

The very first HIV positive in Tajikistan was identified in 1991. Since then, Tajikistan has been included on the list of countries in which the number of HIV-infected people is growing. According to the Minister of Health and Social Protection of the Republic of Tajikistan, Nusratullo Salimzoda, as of July 2015, there are 7,142 officially registered HIV-positive people in Tajikistan.

On July 8, the Minister of Health said at a press conference that in the first half of 2015, the number of HIV-infected pregnant women was 88 people, and 65 of them gave birth to healthy children.
“For comparison, during the first half of 2014, the number of pregnant women infected with HIV was 167, of whom 162 gave birth to healthy children,” Salimzoda noted.
The achievements of modern medicine provide HIV-infected children with a full and healthy life. Like any other children, these children need caring and loving families and sympathetic society that will help them grow and mature.
In order to find out the attitude of society towards HIV-infected children, we conducted a survey among the population with the following question: “Would you agree if a child with HIV infection went to your school?”
A total of two-hundred people were interviewed. The survey was conducted mainly in Dushanbe, but we also had an opportunity to interview several people in one of the villages of Faizabad District.
Among the respondents, nineteen spoke strongly against the HIV-positive child going to the same school as their healthy children.
According to Jamila, for the sake of safety of children in elementary schools, she would not allow an HIV-positive child to be in the same class as her child. “I would be against it, especially in elementary school, where 6 – 7-year-old children do not understand how dangerous it is, and often these children fight, bite, or simply fall down and get an open wound; it is absolutely not about discrimination, but rather about safety, who will guarantee that?…” said Jamila.
According to Mahina, a mother of five, if she found out that a child with HIV infection goes to the same school as her children, she would quietly transfer them to another school.
It should be noted that according to the laws of the Republic of Tajikistan, these children have the same right to education as healthy school-age children.
Thirty of the respondents, despite knowing the ways of the virus transmission, hesitated to answer whether or not they are against their children and an HIV-infected child going to the same school.
Irina Muratova, mother of a 3-year-old girl, had a different response. “I would allow it. I would be concerned after learning about it. If the school administration disseminated this news, then there would be a reason to transfer the child to another school.”
Another mother, who declined to give her name, confessed that “I am not against [HIV-positive] child in the school, but on the other hand, you never know what people have in their minds. What if his anger manifests itself at some point, wondering why everyone is healthy and he is sick for no reason. He/she might think to take revenge, bite a healthy child and transmit HIV. Then there will come a time for teenagers to fall in love, and when the girlfriend/boyfriend rejects him/her, the teen will take revenge. Although when we meet people, we do not ask to see a health certificate. Perhaps there are such [HIV-positive] people among us, we just do not know. But think about it, when you find out, you gradually start avoiding them. Therefore, from the viewpoint of humanity, I am not against it, but in terms of safety, I’m not entirely sure.”
 “Although I’m familiar with the ways of contracting the infection, it is still difficult to answer. Very tough question and choice…” responded Rustam, father of four.
Important to know:
130 people out of 200 said they would allow their children and an HIV-infected child to go to the same school. Both parents and students were among these respondents.
27-year-old Zarina Samadi studied at the educational institution №21 in Dushanbe: “I would allow and not even think twice about it. I’ve know about HIV and how it is transmitted since high school. But I take my own tools and instruments when I go to the dentist or for manicure and pedicure; I would allow my child to sit in the same desk with HIV-infected student. By the way, thanks to those lessons at school, I was spared a lot of things. They taught us all of that in plain language at school. In the lower grades, [we were taught] about traffic laws, earthquakes, fires and mudslides, and what to do in such circumstances. In high school, [we were taught] about sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and drug addiction. It’s been firmly and clearly embedded in my mind ever since.”
Suhrob Khayrulloyev, resident of a village and father of three girls said “I would allow it; first of all, the child should not pay for someone else’s mistakes or sins, he is already sick, and such [negative] attitude in the society will destroy his morale. Second, the ways of transmitting HIV are well-known; and third, tolerance, compassion, and equality should be cultivated in children, rather than disgust and misunderstanding. It is all in God’s hands, one can get infected with HIV by unsanitary practices of a doctor…”
Fortunately, most of the respondents, among whom were many pupils, said they do not mind sitting at the same desk with [HIV-infected] peer at school.

According to the National Center for HIV/AIDS, a total of 385 HIV-infected people were identified in the country in the first quarter of this year. This figure is higher than the same period in 2014. According to official data, 535 HIV-infected children are registered in the country.

According to doctors, if HIV-positive pregnant woman is under medical supervision, the probability of transmitting the virus to the child is reduced from 40 to 2%, that is, 90% of the HIV-infected women can give birth to healthy children.

Currently, there are 6,944 people living with HIV in Tajikistan, more than 30% of whom are women, in most cases, they are infected by their spouses-addicts and migrants. Ten percent of HIV-infected people in Tajikistan are children under the age of 14.
According to the respondents of survey, stigmatization will be reduced if information is properly prepared for each audience based on their interests and professions, and everyone learns about the virus and the ways of its transmission.
Mukhaio Nozimova, journalist (Dushanbe, Tajikistan)