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Student Body May Be Infected with HIV/AIDS

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer Parents and students at a Missouri high school have been informed that a person who tested positive for HIV may have exposed more than 50 students to the deadly virus through what is believed to be sexual activity. The St. Louis County Department of Health first discovered the exposure on Oct. 7 and informed parents of the 1300 students at Normandy High School in St. Louis that voluntary testing would be taking place at the school to determine the extent of the infection. The department is not saying whether the infected person was a student or connected with the school, only that the person indicated as many as 50 students may have been exposed. According to a letter sent home to parents by Carl B. Hudson Stanton E. Lawrence, Ed.D. the High School Principal Superintendent of Schools, “ . . . the Department of Health learned of evidence that suggests HIV may have been transmitted among some Normandy Senior High School students.” Anxious parents gathered at the school for a meeting with the Department of Health where they were told the case is unique because it's centered at Normandy High, and health officials are trying to learn more about the exposure and assess how many students are involved. ”Often times we get information we have a case positive and once we get that information about a case positive, what we do as a health department is we look for sources and contacts and during the course of that investigation, it led us to Normandy Senior High School,” Dr. Dolores Gunn of the Department of Health told parents. While she would not go into detail about the type of exposure, she did say most outbreaks of HIV in the region come from sexual contact rather than the use of dirty hypodermic needles.   The school will begin free and confidential testing at the school this month. Only representatives from the Department of Health will be with the students during the testing where they will be offered educational material and a chance to ask questions. A special exit has been set up so that no one will know which students have been tested. The school district will not know how many of its students tested positively. Once the students are tested, the results will be between the department and the child and his family. Parents and students reacted well to the news, but are understandably alarmed. Sophomore Tevin Baldwin told CBS News that many of his classmates in this working-class city of about 5,000 residents want to transfer out of the district, which encompasses other towns. "Nobody knows what's going on," he said.  Marcus Holman, a 14-year-old freshman, said he never imagined HIV would become such a widespread threat at school. "I'm just trying to pass, get to the next grade, safely," he said. During an interview on CBS, Superintendent Lawrence that even with all that is known about the dangers of HIV and AIDS, students can make mistakes. "Children are children, and if adults can make questionable decisions, certainly we have to understand that our young people will do this from time to time," he said. "I think what's important is that we respond, as we did, as expeditiously as possible, and let what is best for the kids drive our decision-making."   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.




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