ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis County Health Department on Wednesday raised concerns that some students at Normandy High School may have been exposed to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Health department director Dr. Dolores Gunn said the concern was raised after someone tested positive for HIV "and that may have led to the exposure of students at Normandy High School.'' Gunn would not say if the person who tested positive was a student or had an affiliation with the school, and would not disclose the person's age or sex.
Gunn also declined to speculate on how many students may have been exposed and would not disclose whether the potential exposure was through unprotected sex, sharing a needle or some other means. Still, the information was alarming enough that the health department is offering free and confidential HIV tests for all students.
"There is a real possibility that several students at Normandy High School may have been exposed to HIV,'' Gunn said at a news conference.
Testing will be conducted over the next several weeks, then sent to the state health lab in Jefferson City for evaluation. The health department and the school district urged all Normandy students who have engaged in unprotected sexual activity to get tested.
Because testing of students hasn't yet begun, health officials said it was too early to know if any students have HIV or AIDS.
In a letter sent home to parents on Monday, the district urged patience and cooperation with the investigation. The district has made arrangements with the health department to provide students with information about HIV. Meetings with parents also were planned.
Normandy High School principal Carl Hudson declined an interview request.
Normandy is a town of 5,100 residents in north St. Louis County. The district has 5,800 students in grades K-12.
Gunn said this marked the first time her department has focused an HIV investigation on one physical area like a school. She said there was no evidence that the person who tested positive knew he or she was potentially exposing others to the disease, and no criminal investigation is under way.