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HRW Says HIV-Positive Romanians Face Discrimination

(RFE/RL) PRAGUE, August 2, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A leading rights watchdog says thousands of HIV-positive children and young people in Romania face widespread discrimination that keeps many from attending school, obtaining medical care, working, or learning about their illness.

In a new report, Human Rights Watch criticizes the Romanian government's failure to combat discrimination and promote integration. It says the government's negligence is leaving many children vulnerable to abuse and neglect, ill-informed about sexuality, and unprepared for adult life.

HRW says more than 7,200 Romanian children and young people aged 15 to 19 are living with HIV.

It says the majority were infected between 1986 and 1991 as a result of lax government regulations that exposed them to contaminated needles and "microtransfusions," when children were injected with unscreened blood in the mistaken belief this would improve their immunological status.