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HIV+ 2-year-old barred from pool: Local activists join protest at Alabama resort that banned HIV-positive toddler
  September 2, 2007
The nation raised a hard eyebrown when a small child was banned from an Alabama resort pool and showers in July because he was HIV positive.
So did Shreveporter Cedric Murphy, a longtime advocate of safe sex and HIV/AIDS education.
Sylvia and Dick Glover were vacationing at Wales West in Silverhill with their 2-year-old foster son Caleb when the incident took place. The story made national headlines. And advocates and people living with HIV or AIDS began planning a "swim-in" under the guise of a family reunion.
"It's just proof there's still room for education," said Murphy, a Louisiana representative for the Campaign to End AIDS (C2EA), which is coordinating the event.
Murphy, executive director of the local advocacy group Brotherhood Task Force of Northwest Louisiana, will be among 150 people, including 100 living with HIV/AIDS, who plan to be at the resort Labor Day.
But what started as a surprise visit instead is going to be a welcomed gathering. After hearing about the plans, resort owner Ken Zadnichek told C2EA organizers the "family reunion" is welcome.
Zadnichek was also reported on as saying the incident had been a misunderstanding and he didn't realize what he was doing was discrimination. He was just trying to protect other children at the resort, he said.
Family reunion attendees plan to have lunch, barbecue and enjoy the pool and showers wearing bathing suits that say "HIV Positive.
Murphy, who has volunteered to drive, leaves today to pick up other activists in Dallas and Houston before heading to Wales West, which is on Alabama's Gulf Coast.
Murphy said the mind-set toward the event is positive.
"It's an opportunity for education," said Murphy, who's not above relating to Zadnichek's initial reaction. "Even me, with my training, when I first started with this work, I would catch myself cringing when someone who was HIV positive touched a utensil. The truth is HIV is not casually contracted."
HIV is spread by sexual contact with an infected person, by sharing needles and/or syringes with someone who is infected or, less commonly (and now very rarely in countries where blood is screened for HIV antibodies), through transfusions of infected blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Babies born to HIV-infected women may also become infected before or during birth or through breast-feeding after birth.
There is no scientific evidence HIV is transmitted in other ways, or there would be a very different pattern of cases, the CDC states. The CDC also says the virus is very fragile and does not survive well outside the body. Contact with saliva, tears and sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV, the agency says.
The Glovers helped plan the reunion and fully support it, according to C2EA.
Sylvia Glover hopes to attend. But the Glovers' situation is complicated by the fact her husband is battling advanced non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and has been given 18 months to live. "This family reunion gives me hope for Caleb's future," Glover told C2EA members. "Most people don't understand that discrimination around AIDS hurts kids and grown-ups as much as the disease itself."
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