Summer Camp Turns Away HIV-Positive Boy, Mom Sues

A summer basketball camp in Rockland County turned away a ten-year-old boy because he has the virus that causes AIDS, according to a lawsuit filed by the boy's mother.

The head of the Deer Mountain Day Camp's weeklong basketball program initially told the mother her HIV-positive son would be welcome for a 2004 session, according to the lawsuit, filed last month in a federal court in White Plains. But two days before the program started the camp director told the mother the boy would not be admitted because he had HIV.

Attorney Rodeny Gould for Deer Mountain says the camp had not discriminated against the boy and "had a long and rich history of catering to children with special medical needs."

The lawsuit says the boy, now 12, was infected before birth, has taken medication for years and is healthy and athletic. The lawsuit described the risk of his transmitting the virus to other campers or staffers as "infinitesimally small."

The lawsuit accuses the camp of violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and state human-rights law. It seeks unspecified damages, and the boy's lawyers said they also wanted the camp to change its policy and apologize to the boy.

The American Camp Association says camps they cannot discriminate against campers or staff members who have HIV or AIDS.

The state health department says more than 45-hundred children in New York State have HIV.