Ricky Ray, 10, one of three brothers infected with the AIDS virus, lies awake at night crying, blaming himself for the fire that destroyed the family's Florida home, his father told a Senate committee yesterday.
"He believes if he hadn't tested positive, the house wouldn't have burned," Clifford Ray said.
Ray and his wife, Louise, told the Labor and Human Resources Committee about threats and harassment that began when Ricky and his brothers, Robert, 9, and Randy, 8, tested positive for the virus.
For a year, the boys were told to stay home from school. But, when a federal judge ordered them to class last month, a student boycott was organized and the family received bomb threats and threatening telephone calls. Still, the boys wanted to stay in school, some of the children had started to accept them, Ray said, and they were feeling a little better. Then, fire destroyed their house while the family was away.
Committee Chairman Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told Ricky Ray, sitting in the audience with his two brothers and sister and a friend, "None of this is the children's fault."
Ray said his son is accepting that now.
The family remains at an undisclosed location in Florida trying to decide what to do. "We want to blend back into the woodwork, so to speak," said Louise Ray, whose three sons are hemophiliacs and whose doctor says they picked up the AIDS virus from clotting agents given to control their disease.
Joining the family in supporting bipartisan legislation to forbid discrimination against those who test positive for the virus was the boys' doctor and a Miami environmental lawyer who took on the Ray case after his wife read of their plight in a newspaper.