Students at Missouri High School Tested for HIV Following Concern of Exposure to Virus, AP/Google.com Reports
Students at a suburban St. Louis high school are being tested for HIV after an HIV-positive individual told health officials that as many as 50 students might have been exposed to the virus, the AP/Google.com reports. The St. Louis County Health Department has declined to comment on how the possible exposure might have occurred or whether the HIV-positive person who notified health officials was a student or was connected with the school. The Normandy School District learned of the potential exposure Oct. 9 and by the next day had determined, with the help of the health department, how to release the information and handle testing, according to the AP/Google.com.
According to the AP/Google.com, the district is consulting with national HIV/AIDS organizations in an attempt to "minimize the fallout and prevent the infection -- and misinformation -- from spreading." Doug Hochstedler, the district's spokesperson, said, "There's potential for stigma for all students regardless of whether they're positive or negative," adding, "the board wants to be sure all children are fully educated." Hochstedler said the district does not know the identity of the individual who notified officials. "We do know there was some potential exposure between that person and students. We don't know the individual or the route of transmission," Hochstedler said (Wittenauer, AP/Google.com, 10/24). Health officials on Friday said tattoo needles have been ruled out as a source of transmission, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/25).
Students are undergoing confidential testing at six stations in the high school's gymnasium, the AP/Google.com reports. The students are offered educational materials and a chance to ask questions before they are given the opportunity to be tested, Hochstedler said, adding that students may decline the screening. Only representatives from the health department are with the students during the testing, and school officials will not know which students received an HIV test or how many students tested positive for the virus, the AP/Google.com reports. "Once they're tested, it's an issue between the [health] department and the child and his family," Hochstedler said.
Superintendent Stanton Lawrence said that the district has met twice with parents and begun to ask ministers in the community to discuss the importance of responsible behavior. He added that students in grades four through 12 have taken classes that discuss the consequences of risky behavior, including HIV (AP/Google.com, 10/24).