HIV nursing students get backing

THAILAND - In response to claims by three students that they were forced to move from nursing science to other fields because they had HIV, a foundation will request help from the National Aids Committee.

Reports said the Christian University of Thailand (CUT) had forced the third-year students to change their fields after blood tests showed they were infected with HIV. Some had reportedly submitted a complaint to the Office of the National Human Rights Commission and one contacted the Aids Access Foundation.

Foundation Director Nimit Tienudom said yesterday the organisation would submit the request to the Aids committee chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. It would ask the government and private agencies, including the university, not to force people to have blood tests before job recruitment and educational enrolment.

"To do so violates human rights. Currently, personnel living with HIV are working for public health agencies. So the three students should be allowed to continue their study in nursing science until they graduate. I would like the university to understand that although they have HIV, they can work in the public health field," Nimit said.

According to previous news reports, CUT's president Asst Prof Dr Janjira Wongkhomthong had said having the students move to other faculties would help them as it proved they were able to take care of their own health. They would not risk working in places with a danger of infection.

She said two of the students agreed to study in fields not related to healthcare, but the third had not responded to the proposal. This student could follow the two students or claim the tuition fees back before quitting. Other universities have done the same.

Nimit insisted that people with HIV would not transmit the disease to patients as hospitals had hygiene standards and they should not be stigmatised.