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Arkansas school bans kids suspected of being HIV positive

Timothy Kincaid

September 15th, 2013

Pea Ridge School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin or disability in any of its policies, practice or procedures… unless we get all suspiciousy that a child might have the HIV

Oh Noes!!! The hiv!!!

Turns out that some idiot school superintendent in some podunk town in Arkansas seems to think it’s mid-80’s all over again and has banned three siblings from attending the local school until that take an HIV test and give him the results.

The Disability Rights Center of Arkansas, Inc. (DRC) claims the Pea Ridge Public School District has removed three siblings from school, two of whom have disabilities.

The group claims the students have been denied the right to attend school until documentation is provided that they are not HIV positive.

“The actions taken by the Superintendent of Pea Ridge School District are appalling and is reminiscent of times past and the case of Ryan White,” says Tom Masseau, Executive Director of DRC. “The fact that the foster families have to provide documentation that the children are HIV negative before entering the school is unlawful and immoral. Further, the fact the school’s attorney authorized this unlawful act is at best appalling. It stigmatizes individuals with disabilities or their “perceived” disabilities as there is no indication these individuals have HIV. There is only an unlawful fear that they do.

Other than that being likely illegal, it’s colossally stupid.

Not only is HIV a fragile virus that cannot exist outside the body and cannot be transmitted through casual contact, today’s medications make most infections so low in viral count as to be theoretically non-transmittable through high-risk sex*. There’s a greater danger of school children of being trampled by a buffalo stampede than there is from these children.

But stupidity and petty authority will always give us gems like this decision by Superintendent Rick Neal.

* – NOTE: The notion of non-transmissible viral loads is controversial and the science is not fully conclusive. There are documented cases in which HIV was transmitted even with a low plasma viral count and the CDC recommends condom use even when both the plasma and genital fluid viral loads are low.

Comments

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Erik Rubright
September 15th, 2013 | LINK

I live in that “podunk town”.

As I posted on my own blog, I can say I am somewhat surprised, but at the same time I’m not. Pea Ridge is a small town. In the South. While this area in Northwest Arkansas is more progressive than a majority of the state (thanks in part to Walmart and vendors to Walmart bringing in people from all over the US and the world), there are still many “backwoods” locals that are filled with teachings from organized religions that choose to live in the past.

I’m really hoping Superintendent Rick Neal is discharged for what he has done.

But sadly, for those three students who were blocked from school, the harassment and embarrassment has probably just begun.

Lindoro Almaviva
September 15th, 2013 | LINK

I hope he is personally sued and his district sees some legal action as well. They should see a huge loss of money for what they are doing

Sir Andrew
September 16th, 2013 | LINK

You can send the good superintendent an email expressing your thoughts to rneal@prs.k12.ar.us.

This is what I have sent;
Sir,

I have read of your illegal and unconscionable stance on the matter of children you suspect may have HIV. You, sir, are an embarrassment to your profession and should not hold the high office that you are currently disgracing with your actions. I hope that you will consult an attorney who actually understands that this is no longer 1983 and, with competent legal advice, abandon your attacks on these three children.

With no aloha, (then my full name, which I will not print here)

Rob
September 16th, 2013 | LINK

It’s not “likely illegal” it IS illegal, this is a direct violation of the ADA and HIPPA. They have no right to any medical record other than vaccination records and what parents may provide for reasonable accommodation.

Also, Timothy, you do our community and the HIV/AIDS Comunity a disservice by offering unsubstantiated and controversial statements such as HIV is theoretically untransmitable by high risk sex when the viral burden is lower or posibly undetectable. YOU are an accountant, not a scientist nor a doctor, and as such, shouldn’t be advising people that high risk sex with a positive person is likely safe from transmission if they are on meds. It’s irresponsible.

Jay
September 16th, 2013 | LINK

I agree with Rob’s comment about about the irresponsibility of advising people that high risk sex with people on medication is not dangerous. Please delete that part of this otherwise excellent post.

Rob
September 16th, 2013 | LINK

And no, using the word “theoretically” doesn’t give you a pass on the unsubstantiated by modern science claim. The science of your claim is NOT proven at this point and the jury is still out on it. That one line ruins the entire article, which was good and worth noting. I posted the same story on Facebook yesterday.

Timothy Kincaid
September 16th, 2013 | LINK

Erik,

I’m sorry. I should not have insulted your home.

jeff Elia
September 16th, 2013 | LINK

This saddens me so much! That such small minded and such close minded hicks can have the audasity 2 make the asumpition that these kids/children have this disease and if they do! They should b love and not condemd 4 something they have no control over its nothing but a witch hunt! And who all beleives this u should b ASHAMED! Thow shall not judge!

corey
September 17th, 2013 | LINK

Thank you, Sir Andrew, for the address. I was so angry I did send him a piece of my mind. I recommend anyone else do the same. In case you missed it:
rneal@prs.k12.ar.us.

Teresa Young
September 17th, 2013 | LINK

This really scares me thinking that we still have small minded small towns and small school who do not believe they need to follow the current law! In addition to Sir Andrew’s email address, the phone number is 479-451-8181 in case you want to call and ask yourself. Shame on you Mr. Neal and Pea Ridge Schools for doing this.

TomTallis
September 17th, 2013 | LINK

The sad thing is that even if they reverse themselves or are forced to do so, the damage to those kids is done. Really, they need to be moved to another district, one that is not run by morons.

Timothy Kincaid
September 17th, 2013 | LINK

I generally DO NOT encourage direct contact in most of these cases. It give the troglodyte an opportunity to shift focus away from their own stupid, illegal, and damaging behavior and instead become a Victim of the Militant Homosexual Agenda.

If you do decide to call him anyway, please do not yell, threaten, “shame”, tell him to go to hell, or suggest he curl up and die, or in any other way use any language which can be trotted out to the local sympathetic media about how he is being mistreated and attacked and has had death threats and is afraid for his family. By now we know the routine. Let’s not play into it.

enough already
September 18th, 2013 | LINK

First of all, why are we surprised?
I’ve been to town-hall meetings at which local government officials actually flat out stated: Telling gay kids they’re going to hell is not illegal in our state.
Conservative Christians are violating federal law on the National Guard in several Southern states right now, beating up on little children is not even a half-step further.

The real question at hand is what are we going to do about this? How can these abused children be protected? How can these ‘responsible’ politicians and educators be prevented from ever doing this again? Why must standing law be re-litigated? Can the local conservative Christian churches learn from this? Learn anything about stopping hate, I mean, not propagating it?

As for Timothy’s comments on low-viral loads, I’m so tired of the ‘you’re not a doctor, so don’t say…’ silliness. Our attempts to impose safe-sex=condoms have failed to protect enough people. Maybe it’s time to stop the knee-jerk attacks on anyone who dares to step over the PC line and rethink our own failures.

Rob
September 18th, 2013 | LINK

Enough already,

As a person living with AIDS, I believe I have a right and a responsibility to call attention to things that are NOT mediclally sound advise.

Too bad you consider asking for responsible remarks on health issues on a leading LGBT site to be silly. The site has a responsibility to make sure they are not disseminating false information to their readers.

Sandhorse
September 18th, 2013 | LINK

Rob,

Your passion is commendable and wholly understandable. However, AIDS.gov, TheBody.com and the CDC all state that low vial load greatly reduces the odds of transmission; even via ‘high –risk’ sex. At the same time they all state this is not a guarantee that transmission won’t happen.

This is not unlike stating jumping out of an airplane with a parachute greatly reduces your chances of dying by sudden impact with the ground. But even with a parachute, it is understood one is talking a risk when they disembark from an aircraft in mid flight.

This is not a sex-ed website and does not claim to be. Deriding Timothy for posting information one can also find on reputable HIV websites is misguided. Moreover, anyone who would take Timothy’s statement, even without the included disclaimer, as license to have unprotected sex is probably already doing just that.

Rob
September 18th, 2013 | LINK

Sandhorse,

I said something because of the way it was worded. “Theoretically non-transmittable” is a far cry from “reduces the odds of”. And Timothy’s disclaimer made that perfectly clear, BUT only AFTER he added it was it clear that one can indeed get HIV with a low or no viral burden count.

I didn’t “deride Timothy” for posting the same information found on reputable websites, the wording he used is not the same in meaning as the words used on those sites. I also only mentioned it one time, with a second post talking about the use of “theoretically”, and then remarked on so done else’s comment about it being “silliness”.

And no, it’s not a sex Ed website, on that you are correct, but it is a LGBT website and seeks to Inform the readers on LGBT Issues, and as such educates on most issues. So as an LGBT website it bears responsibility to educate readers And to make factually accurate claims, not questionable ones.

I’m sure you’ve seen my back and forths with Timothy, if I was deriding him, it would be apparent. I made my comment and he noted the original post accordingly, and that was where I left it until enough already made his/her comment.

As for those who may already be doing that?? Well, when a 15 year old kid reads that it’s theoretically impossible to get HIV from a person with an undetectable viral load, they may be lead to believe that mean sits 100 percent safe. There ARE people who read this site that are not wholly educated on all the issues, so clarity is of utmost importance to a segment of readers.

Rob
September 18th, 2013 | LINK

Sorry, had one more point but hit post by accident. My reply to enough already was prompted by the final comments they made that seem to suggest that one need not practice safe sex and that it was just being PC. I am wary of ANY comments that imply that barebacking is safe, and that IS what both Timothy’s original comment and enough already’s comments seem to imply.

Also, HIV + individuals ONLY know what their LAST viral count was. If its two months later that viral load count is unreliable as an indicator of where one stands. Tests that are weeks or months old, don’t give anyone any protection. Medicines fail sometimes and viral burdens change unexpectedly. I know mine have on occasion gone from undetectable to a medium level viral burden from one test to the next, depending on if I’m still able to use the medicines I’m on. People do become resistant to their meds and that’s not always available information, to them or to those they tell they are u detectable.

Marcus
September 18th, 2013 | LINK

Rob, thank you for speaking up. It’s pretty presumptuous of people (especially if they’re not living with HIV themselves) to claim that quibbling with misinformation about a seriousness illness is political correctness.

Rob
September 19th, 2013 | LINK

Thanks Marcus.

Jay
September 19th, 2013 | LINK

Rob, as my post above indicates, I completely agree with you re the original comments about “theoretically non-transmissible.” I am grateful that you spoke up. I am also grateful that Tim heeded your (and my) request that he remove or at least clarify the misinformation. The comments of “enough already” and “Sandhorse” are silly, but they may have been made after Tim had revised the post.

Rob
September 19th, 2013 | LINK

Jay,

Yeah, I don’t know if they saw the post before he made the change. I also find it odd that Timothy didn’t bother to note that he changed the article at all. Maybe it was because it was me making the point he didn’t want to acknowledge it. His usual mo is to acknowledge that he made the change in the comments, he does it on every other article, but for some reason he did not note it in the comments so it does look like I made the comment without cause. His change to the article makes my post look like I jumped on him for nothing.

But for all readers, the note at the bottom of the page was not there when I made my post, it was added after my comment and the change was not noted by the author.

And thanks Jay for your agreement.

PeaRidgeTeacher
September 20th, 2013 | LINK

As a Pea Ridge school teacher, my fellow teachers and I could not believe this was actually done by our administration. We have been told that the “problem” has been resolved and been told verbally to keep quiet about this issue under the threat of termination. I have worked in this school district for 15+ years and have never seen an administration and school board this bad, incompetent, and corrupt. We really need outside help, but most of my peers need their jobs and fear the school administration so they will not “rock the boat” and will “look the other direction” knowing that it is not always in the best interest of the students. I guess these are sad days we are living in. My guess is that nothing will happen to our administration and school board further letting them know they can get away with big and small issues as they deem fit. I really feel sorry for these students. They will have to endure undue and possibly never ending harassment by the administration, faculty, some parents, and students that they did not ask for.

enough already
September 20th, 2013 | LINK

Jay et al.,
I made my comments prior to the revision.
They are not silly. Instead of attacking each other, let’s focus on the relevant matters at hand, shall we?

First, the children. Let’s do think of the children. Their situation is beyond words bad. How can we queers bring about change to help them?

Second, like it or not, the approach to reducing new infections of Hiv taken by you and others criticizing me here have not exactly been stunning successes.

Beautifully PC, of course, Totally worthy of the Ivy-Tower support they find (and self-congratulatory praise you and your fellows heap upon yourselves). But reality tells a different tail.

People don’t really understand disease vectors in the same way they understand the consequences of, say, running a red light.

Barebacking will continue. Condom use will remain ‘optional’ for use when convenient or one ‘feels’ one’s partner might not be safe.

I don’t have to be a woman to know that limiting a woman’s choice regarding her own body is wrong. I don’t have to be ill with Aids or even HIV+ to know that the right-speak=right-think approach has failed, and failed, utterly. (aving lost my first husband to the disease, I am, however, furiously angry at the comment that I have no right to participate in this discussion.

You all start bringing home better statistics among young people and then, maybe, you will have the grounds to attack Timothy for making a rhetorical point which was clearly aimed at the interaction of young children. Until then, you remain what you are: Great PC-Players who have failed badly at actually achieving behavioral change where and when it matters.

Jay
September 20th, 2013 | LINK

enough already, I suspect that the alarming and continuing high rates of infection among gay and bi youth has a lot more to do with people following the belief of you and (originally) Tim that there is no danger in having unprotected sex than there is of telling people to be careful.

enough already
September 20th, 2013 | LINK

Jay, I have never, not once, suggested, even remotely any such thing.
Your blithe assumption that I have done so is, however, exactly the problem to which I (if poorly spelled) referred.

My first husband died of Aids before we had anything. He died at a time when conservative Christians were (already) overjoyed by his and the other gay men’s deaths.

Why on earth would I want anyone to suffer what he did? Oh, and, as long as we are on the subject – only a small number of people infected with the virus actually receive treatment.

No. Absolutely NO.

You are totally, completely, absolutely wrong in your assessment of my position on safe sex.

The evidence is well supported: No exchange of semen or blood into the bloodstream, no transmission of the disease.
Unfortunately, the evidence is also quite firm: Your naive insistence that people use condoms and stop that horrible barebacking has failed to change behavior among those whom we both are seeking to help remain healthy.

Rob
September 20th, 2013 | LINK

Enough already,

You have some nerve clumping my calls for accurate information with Ivory Towers and the like. I have been living with HIV since 1988 and have had AIDS since 2004. I did not make any comments other than the obvious one that information needs to be accurate. If you think that’s being overly PC, then you have deeper issues than can be addressed.

I do believe that HIV meds like Norvir can be used as prophylactics to help preventthespread of HIV, but I don’t think telling people that viral burdens that are undetectable are theoretically unlikely to spread the disease. Does it lower the risk? Yes. Is it theoretically impossible? No, that’s freaking insane.

And if you so strongly believe that the evidence is well supported, as you explained, why would you challenge or criticize a call for accurate information that says unsafe sex, regardless of viral load, or because of undetectable viral load, is still unsafe if you didn’t think otherwise?

You claim to not be condoning unsafe sexual practices, yet you chastise people for calling for safe sex practices and a dissemination of accurate information. Your last post contradicts your previous ones. You obviously have some other issue unrelated to calls for accurate HIV information.

Rob
September 20th, 2013 | LINK

And theoretically means that in theory it should not happen, but as Timothy noted in his addendum, it HAS happened, which means the theory isn’t accurate, because the reality is that it can still happen.

It’s nice to talk about “theory”, except when reality contradicts said theory, as it has.

enough already
September 20th, 2013 | LINK

Rob,
You’re obviously too agenda driven to make a conversation possible.
So, let’s leave it at that.

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