Pupils Given HIV Drugs after Being Pricked by Needle

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH HARRIS;OLINKA KOSTER

A GROUP of primary school children were at the centre of an Aids scare last night after pricking themselves with needles in a playground.

The 21 youngsters, from six to 11, are being given powerful anti-HIV drugs designed to minimise the risk of infection.

But they could suffer side-effects including diarrhoea, headaches, insomnia, nausea and dizziness.

They and their families also face an agonising three-month wait before the children are tested for Aids.

The needles were brought into Carpenters Primary School in Stratford, East London, by a six-year-old girl whose diabetic mother uses them to test her blood sugar levels.

Although they were clean and new, the infection risk comes because one of the children who played with them at break-time is classed as at 'increased risk of HIV carriage' - normally meaning a parent or close family member is HIV positive.

Several youngsters were said to have been pricked with the same needle.

Parents were called to an emergency meeting and told the children needed blood tests for the liver disease hepatitis.

Health chiefs also took the unprecedented step of prescribing a month-long course of antiretroviral drugs, which hugely reduce the risk of contracting HIV.

They can cause more serious sideeffects, including liver damage, nerve problems, anaemia and loss of white blood cells, but these are more likely with long-term use.

The children will be tested again for hepatitis in three months and will be offered HIV tests at the same time. …