HA NOI (VNS)— Despite receiving adequate education and health services, the overwhelming majority of Viet Nam's 457,691 children affected by HIV/AIDS are still blocked from fully integrating with society.
That's the view of participants at a recent conference on the protection and care of children with HIV/AIDS, who say social discriminations still serve as a barrier blocking them from fully participating in society.
Statistics from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, showed more than 9,750 out of these children are living with the disease themselves and more than 50 per cent belong to poor families.
Ngu Duy Anh, head of the Student Affairs Department under the Ministry of Education and Training, said social stigma and discrimination towards HIV/AIDS-affected children had reduced over the past three years, with most attending classes in centres and schools.
"In particular, there are more than 300 students living with HIV/AIDS who are able to maintain their studying in public shools without meeting any discrimination," he said.
Nguyen Thi Phuong, director of Ha Noi's Social Labour and Education Centre No.2, said voluntary teachers were holding daily classes for affected children taken into care by the centre.
In addition, they received tuition from their adoptive mother, brothers and sisters, she added. Phuong said these children also had lots of chances to play games with local children.
Anh said nearly 65 per cent of children affected by HIV/AIDS had been offered health care services. More than 3,560 HIV/AIDS children were being treated with the Antiretroviral drug (ARV), 25 times more than seven years ago.
Measures to prevent the spread of the disease from mothers to babies had been applied to reduce the large number of new infections.
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the basic rights of many children to access education and health services had yet to be realised.
Nguyen Thi Hoan, teacher of Bac Giang Province's Mo Trang High School said children affected by this disease who suffer social stigma and discrimination would suffer much more than adults and could develop long-term psychological issues.
"However, many are still being driven away from public schools where parents of other students are opposed to integration," she said.
Doan Mau Diep, deputy minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said it would be a long fight to totally stop social stigma towards the children, so it is necesary to boost communication campaigns and change people's prejudices about this disease.
Anh agreed and said more than 22 million students nationwide would be a main force to remove social discrimination toward the affected children in the coming time, so proper knowledge and preventive measures against HIV/AIDS were being integrated into main teaching subjects such as biology, literature, geography and civics.
In addition, extra-curricular activies with themes of HIV/AIDS were also held regularly at schools from kindergartens right up to higher-education level, he said.
There were also meetings for parents providing basic information about the disease, he added.
Phuc asked relevant agencies to update statistics about children living with and affected by this disease, so that proper assistance policies can be developed.— VNS