HIV positive teachers to petition China govt

Chinese students display a handmade red ribbon at a aschool in Anhui province on World AIDS Day. Three Chinese men who say they were illegally denied government teaching jobs because they are HIV-positive have taken their cases to the country's top leaders, their lawyer has told AFP

Three Chinese men who say they were illegally denied government teaching jobs because they are HIV-positive have taken their cases to the country's top leaders, their lawyer told AFP on Tuesday. The men all had passed employment exams but were rejected by education departments in three separate provinces when physical exams revealed that they each carried the virus that can lead to AIDS. Ahead of World AIDS day on December 1, they have written to the legislative affairs office of the State Council in Beijing, headed by Premier Wen Jiabao, asking that anti-discrimination laws be upheld. "Discriminatory rules against AIDS patients in the public servants' physical examination fly in the face of Chinese law," Yu Fangqiang, a lawyer and activist with the pressure group Tianxia Gong told AFP. Yu said the education departments and a court that refused to hear the case of one of the men had violated the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases and Employment Promotion laws and the Regulation on the Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS. "These laws require that HIV/AIDS sufferers be given equal rights for employment and medical treatment," Yu said. UNAIDS China country coordinator Mark Stirling said the organisation was watching China's reaction to the appeal closely. "There should be no discrimination. Employment should be based solely on qualifications, not on a teacher's HIV status," Stirling told AFP. "The risk of HIV-AIDS transmission in a classroom setting is virtually nil." Next, Yu said Tianxia Gong will send 12,000 pictures of supporters holding up signs with slogans such as "support equal employment for AIDS sufferers" to China's health and employment ministries.

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