A physician testified Wednesday that teachers should be warned when a pupil with AIDS is enrolled in a school so that the same precautions now taken by hospitals with AIDS patients can also be taken in classrooms.
The testimony was given as a court hearing continued on whether an unidentified 7-year-old reportedly afflicted with acquired immune deficiency syndrome should be barred from attending classes here. Two local school boards have sought the injunction, and more than 10,000 students were kept out of school last week by parents worried that the disease could be passed to their children.
Dr. Jose Giron, a graduate of the Harvard Medical School and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the New York State University Medical School at Stony Brook, N.Y., told the court that blood and secretions from any AIDS patient must be regarded as infectious.
Giron, who has treated more than 100 AIDS patients, including several children, said there are potential risks that the disease could spread to other youngsters or teachers through open sores, bites, a nose bleed or other occurrences in a school. AIDS is a usually fatal disease caused by a virus that destroys the body’s immune system.
Giron said doctors and nurses treating AIDS patients take precautions, including wearing protective gloves when handling secretions. The physician said it was important for others to know that a youngster with AIDS is among them.
“I would opt for home care education,” Giron said. “When all is said and done, we are dealing with a situation that doesn’t have all the data. I would prefer to be cautious so we don’t have any spread to others who would be innocent victims.”
Disease in Question
Outside the courtroom, the lawyer for the second-grader, whose identity has been hidden, told reporters that his client may not be suffering from the disease after all.
“It would be wrong to assume my client has AIDS,” attorney David Ellenhorn said, refusing to elaborate. New York City’s Corporation Counsel Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., who is opposing the request for an injunction, said responsible experts will support Ellenhorn’s claim.
The health department panel that recommended that the youngster be allowed to continue in school reported that examinations showed a depressed immune system. But the child has successfully tolerated inoculations necessary for school, recovered from chicken pox and continues to exhibit excellent stamina, the department said.