AHF launches Hershey boycott over HIV/AIDS discrimination with Valentine’s press conference

In Advocacy, News by AHF

Starting with ‘Hershey: A Day without Kisses’ Valentine’s boycott, AIDS advocates call on public to join e-letter campaign and boycott of Hershey chocolates over Milton Hershey School’s rejection of a 13-year-old boy due to his HIV-positive status; advocates demand that Hershey—which funds the school—denounce the discrimination and permit the boy’s enrollment

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) announced today that it is spearheading a nationwide boycott of the Hershey Company with over the Milton Hershey School’s AIDS discrimination. The Milton Hershey School—a boarding school for low-income scholarship 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.” The group formally launched its action via Facebook, Twitter and other online media today as part of its ongoing ‘No Kisses for Hershey’ campaign. AHF and AIDS advocates are now call in on the public to forgo buying all Hershey candy and chocolates this Valentine’s Day

PRESS CONFERENCE—HERSHEY COMPANY BOYCOTT targeting AIDS discrimination at Milton Hershey School,

Tuesday, February 14th 10:00 AM (Pacific)

AIDS Healthcare Foundation Headquarters
6255 Sunset Blvd., Suite 2100 (cross street: Argyle) Hollywood, CA 90028

Ged Kenslea, AHF Communications Director
Hydeia Broadbent, 20-something HIV/AIDS advocate who has been HIV-positive since birth
Haseeb Omar, Staff Attorney, AHF

B-ROLL: Oversize 5lb Hershey bar with wrapper printed with boycott URL www.EndHIVStigma.org

NOTE: TELECON to follow 10:30amDial in +1.877.411.9748 participant code #7931503

CONTACTS: Ged Kenslea, AHF Communications Work (323) 308-1833 Cell: (323) 791-5526
Lori Yeghiayan, AHF Communications, Work: (323) 308-1834 Cell: (323) 377-4317

On Tuesday, February 14th–Valentine’s Day—AHF and AIDS advocates in Los Angeles will host a press conference and teleconference about its call on the public to forgo buying Hershey candy and chocolates. The group formally launched its action via Facebook, Twitter and other online media Friday as part of its ongoing ‘No Kisses for Hershey’ campaign.
The group previously launched the website www.EndHIVStigma.org 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.

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.

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 Hershey has shown such a shocking lack of knowledge of basic facts about HIV and how it is spread, and are instead reacting with ignorance and prejudice,” said Tom Myers, General Counsel and Chief of Public Affairs for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “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.”

He 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. The young man in question does not pose a ‘direct threat’ to anyone and Hershey should admit him into the school to begin the education that he desires—and deserves.”

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AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 125,000 individuals in 26 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.

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