If you are the parent of a child with HIV, you may be considering whether or not to tell a teacher at their school. Or you may be a student with HIV thinking about telling a teacher, tutor or lecturer at your school, college or university.
If your child is HIV positive, you may be unsure of what is in place to protect your child's confidentiality at school.
A good starting point is this section of the Children's HIV Association’s (CHIVA) website.
This can also be useful if your child does not have HIV but sometimes stays home from school because one or both of their parents is HIV positive and needs care.
A child who is living with or is affected by HIV has the same right as any child to attend school and access an education. They are also protected by the Equality Act, which means it is unlawful to discriminate against a disabled child.
You are not obliged to disclose that your child or a family member has HIV as it is not a notifiable illness.
If you do decide to disclose your child’s HIV status, it is a good idea to start with the head teacher and another teacher or staff member your child likes. If there is a school nurse, it may also be worth telling them. Please visit the Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA) website to read more about telling the school.
Any medical information you disclose should be kept confidential. Teachers and head teachers legally have to keep medical information confidential because it is covered by the Data Protection Act 1988. You can read more about your rights on CHIVA’s website.
CHIVA also has some information about the advantages and disadvantages of telling the school.
It can be useful to tell the school if your child has to have frequent time off for medical appointments or to care for other family members.
It can also be a good way to ensure your child has some extra support and pastoral care if they need it. Very young children may need a teacher to monitor their anti-HIV medication, for example.
If you are at school or are about to start college or university, you may also be thinking of disclosing your HIV status to a teacher, tutor or lecturer.
This may be a good idea if you are frequently absent because you are unwell or because you care for a family member. If your own or a family member’s HIV impacts on your education, it may be worth telling someone who can offer you the support you need to do your work and go to lessons as much as you can.
You are protected by the Equality Act if you have HIV, which means that if you tell someone at college they cannot discriminate against you. Medical information is covered by the Data Protection Act 1988 which means it must be kept confidential. You can read more about your rights on CHIVA’s website.
You might find it useful to get some advice from a specialist organisation such as Body and Soul or CHIVA who provide advice and support to children and young people with HIV.
These are all important issues to consider when disclosing your HIV status to your school, college or university. In the end, the decision is up to you and your family. If you need any help, you can call THT Direct for support on 0808 802 1221.
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This article was last reviewed on
by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 13/4/2018
Content Author: Kerri Virani
Current Owner: Health Trainers
Children in Need and Bloodborne Viruses: HIV and Hepatitis, Department of Health, November 2004
The Equality Act 2010 and schools, gov.uk, May 2014
Telling a school, Paul Decle, CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association), July 2011
To tell and not to tell, Paul Decle, CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association), July 2011
Your rights in school, Paul Decle, CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association), July 2011
Paida was born with HIV. Watch her story.
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
HIV Drug Interactions
George House Trust
Equality and Human Rights Commission
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