AIDS Protestors Say: No Kisses for Hershey

In Advocacy, News by AHF

AIDS Advocates Will Stage a Protest Outside the Hershey Company Headquarters in Hershey, Pennsylvania Over “Unacceptable” Rejection of a 13-Year-Old Boy for Enrollment at Milton Hershey School Due to His HIV-Positive Status

Carrying Signs and Banners that Say “No Kisses for Hershey:,” Advocates Will Demand that the Hershey Company—which Funds the School—Denounce the Discrimination and Immediately Facilitate the Boy’s Enrollment

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) will spearhead a protest of the Hershey Company on Tuesday, January 24th at 11:00 AM Eastern outside the Hershey Company Headquarters (100 Crystal A Dr., Hershey, PA), over the Milton Hershey School’s AIDS discrimination. The Milton Hershey School—a boarding school for low-income students funded by the Hershey Company—recently rejected a 13-year-old boy for admission citing his HIV-positive status as the reason, misguidedly calling him a “direct threat to the health and safety of others.” Dozens of AIDS advocates—some dressed in “Hershey Kisses” costumes—will protest outside the Hershey Company carrying signs and banners that say: “No Kisses for Hershey.” The group has also launched a website where the public can learn more about the case, learn the facts about HIV/AIDS and send e-letters to three Hershey Company board members who also sit on the board of the Milton Hershey School Trust, urging them to denounce the discrimination and facilitate the boy’s admission into the school.


“The blatant discrimination and ignorance displayed by Hershey in this case is simply unacceptable. Ultimately, it is the Hershey Company itself, as the main funder of the school, that must answer for the decision not to admit the boy—a decision fueled by prejudice and fear,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “If Hershey is truly a company that believes in its social responsibility creed of ‘commitment to consumers, community and children,’ it will denounce this illegal and repugnant discrimination and immediately facilitate the enrollment of the boy at the school.”


What: Protest at Milton Hershey School over AIDS Discrimination
WHEN: Tuesday, January 24th at 11:00 AM (EASTERN)
WHERE: The Milton Hershey School, 100 Crystal A Drive, Hershey, PA 17033
WHO: Dozens of AIDS advocates, some dressed in giant “Hershey’s Kisses” costumes, carrying banners and hand-made signs that say “No Kisses for Hershey:
CONTACTS: Lori Yeghiayan, AHF Communications, Cell: (323) 377-4312
Jessica Reinhart, Grassroots Community Manager, Cell: (323) 203-6146

Shortly after news broke just before World AIDS Day, December 1, 2011, about the school’s rejection of the HIV-positive boy, AIDS Healthcare Foundation hosted a press conference in Washington D.C. to announce the launch of a campaign against HIV/AIDS discrimination at Hershey School in Pennsylvania and in support of the federal discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of a 13-year-old boy who was rejected for admission at Hershey explicitly due to his HIV-positive status. At the event, AHF announced its willingness to contribute up to $50,000 to support a lawsuit filed by AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania on behalf of the boy and expressed its moral outrage at the case.

According to the Associated Press (Claim: Hershey School Rejects HIV-Positive Pa. Boy, By Peter Jackson, 12/1/11): “A private boarding school connected with the Hershey chocolate company says it was trying to protect other students when it denied admission to a Philadelphia-area teenager because he is HIV-positive. The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit on behalf of the unidentified boy in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on Wednesday, claiming the Milton Hershey School for disadvantaged students violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. School officials acknowledged that the 13-year-old boy was denied admission because of his medical condition. They said they believed it was necessary to protect the health and safety of the 1,850 others enrolled in the residential institution, which serves children in pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and where students live in homes with 10 to 12 others.”

At the time of the Washington D.C. press conference in December, Weinstein had stated: “We are morally outraged by the blatant discrimination shown by the Hershey School in this case. As the largest global AIDS organization, we did not feel like AHF could stand by without offering support to AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and the suit they have filed on behalf of the student. The ignorance displayed by the Hershey School’s leadership is unacceptable and demonstrates just how much work there is still to be done to dismantle the fear and misinformation that still surrounds this disease more than 25 years after Ryan White.”

Ryan White was an American teenager from Kokomo, Indiana who, in the mid-1980s, was expelled from middle school because he was HIV-positive. A lengthy legal battle with the school ensued and White became a galvanizing force in educating the country about HIV & AIDS at a time when misinformation about the disease was widespread. After his death in 1990, the U.S. Congress passed a major piece of legislation named in his honor, the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides funding for HIV/AIDS programs for low-income American.

“It is unfortunate that the Hershey School and the Hershey Company have shown such a shocking lack of knowledge of the basic facts about HIV and how it is spread, and are instead reacting with ignorance and prejudice,” said Jessica Reinhart, Grassroots Community Manager for AIDS Healthcare Foundation and a key organizer of the protest. “We do believe that this is an excellent opportunity to educate the public about HIV including the fact that people who are living with HIV/AIDS do not pose a significant risk to others and generally do not require any special medical attention that cannot be obtained through normal medical visits.”

She added: “In addition, people should know that recent studies have shown that people with HIV on treatment are up to 96% non-infectious. Because of this, those on treatment are not a threat to health and safety of others. We hope that the Hershey School and the Hershey Company will see the error of their ways, understand that the young man in question does not pose a ‘direct threat’ to anyone and admit him into the school to begin the education that he desires.”

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AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 123,000 individuals in 26 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe.

Lori Yeghiayan Friedman
Assoc. Dir. of Communications
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Cell: (323) 377-4312
[email protected]

Jessica Reinhart
Grassroots Community Manager
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Cell: (323) 203-6146
[email protected]

Ged Kenslea
Communications Director
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Cell: (323) 791-5526
[email protected]

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