The principal of a specialist school for HIV students in Linfen, North China's Shanxi Province on Thursday refuted accusations that his decision to set a separate room for HIV-positive students during the national college entrance exam amounts to discrimination, saying that the move is intended to protect the students.
A total of 16 students from the Red Ribbon School in Linfen will sit at this year's national exam in two separate rooms of the school equipped with standard surveillance video, the Shanxi Evening News reported on Wednesday.
"It is more of a protection measure for the kids rather than discrimination as some people have said online," Guo Xiaoping, the principal of the Red Ribbon School in Linfen, told the Global Times on Thursday.
"These children grew up in this school since they were little and had never been to other places to take part in exams or activities as normal students usually do. We are really worried that their psychological condition during the exam may be affected because of being in a new and strange place," said Guo.
This is the first case of its kind in China and the move was approved and supported by local authorities, according to the report.
The news about the special room for HIV-positive students has triggered debates on the Chinese social media.
"This kind of independent exam room will impair the common sense that HIV cannot spread through air which authorities have tried to instill among the public for the past several decades," a Web user commented on Sina Weibo.
"If HIV virus could be transmitted by sitting in the same room, then millions of people would have been infected by now," read the post of another Sina Weibo user.
The Net user also commented that the school's move amounts to discrimination against these HIV-positive students and is even comparable to racial segregation in the Western countries in the past.
"Different people share different opinions. The criticism from these netizens also means that they care about the case, but outsiders cannot imagine and understand what these children have experienced before," said Guo.
"Considering their relatively sensitive psychological condition, I believe setting an independent exam room in the school is a wise decision for the kids," said Guo.
The Red Ribbon School in Linfen, founded in 2011, is the first and only specialist school enrolling HIV-positive children in China. There are currently 33 students living and studying in the school.