An AIDS activist group issued a statement yesterday that accused the Taoyuan County Government of neglecting the rights of people infected with HIV/AIDS.
The Persons with HIV/AIDS Rights Advocacy Association of Taiwan protested that disabled AIDS patients in the county have reportedly not been allowed to participate in a vocational training program because of their health condition.
The county-commissioned vocational training initiative, aimed at helping the physically and -mentally challenged develop job skills, refused to assist disabled AIDS sufferers, said Chang Cheng-hsueh (張正學), a social worker with the association.
“This is an unfair restriction and clearly a violation of the law,” Chang said.
By law, institutions or organizations cannot use HIV infection as the sole reason to deny an individual’s right to receive an education or seek employment.
Last year, Chang said, an AIDS patient was referred to a less conveniently located vocational training center because the program administrator said the medical waste the patient produced could possibly infect other trainees.
“This year, the program’s online brochure bluntly states that those with reportable communicable diseases are not welcome,” he said.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said the county government could not exclude AIDS patients from the program.
“Such improper statements should not be in its online brochure,” Chou said.
Chang complained that the county government, the contractor of the program, had ignored the seriousness of the issue and did not censure the program administrator for the mistake or correct his behavior.
However, Lin Yang-pin, the head of the vocational training center at The Potential Development Center for Spinal Cord Sufferers and the program’s administrator, said the controversy stemmed from a misunderstanding.
The disabled AIDS person in question was referred to another vocational center because he could receive better medical attention there, Lin said.
Asked about the restrictions imposed on people with AIDS in this year’s program brochure, Lin said the online content was an older version of the brochure and had not been updated.
The online brochure was removed from the program’s Web site after attracting media attention.