Friday, January 05, 2007

HIV Questions Asked

Here is a photo of an incredible woman and advocate for change I met and worked with in South Africa- I would bet that this country gets past the stigma of HIV much faster than our country. They have set a precedent for change and forgiveness that is impressive.

Here is an email I got the other day. I get emails like this all the time. I thought this one was great and asked great questions. It is so similar to several others I have gotten recently I thought I would post the answers here on my blog. I got permission to post it. I will post this email and then if others have questions add them to the comments and in the subsequent days I will be posting the answers here to these questions and any others that come up. I will also be posting the HIV links that I frequently give out to people so you can do your own surfing on the topic.

"My husband and I are just beginning the process of adoption from
Ethiopia. We are VERY early in the process, we just filled out our
application and sealed it in the envelope to send our on Wednesday
when the post office opens back up. We are hoping to adopt a sibling
pair in the age range of 2-7 years old. We are planning to work with
Adoption Advocates International and part of our decision to work
with them is because of their willingness to place HIV+ children in
adoptive homes.

My husband and I are not sure if adopting an HIV+ child is right for
us, but we are certainly doing our best to educate ourselves about
this issue. I finished reading "There Is No Me Without You" just
before Christmas and I have to admit that book taught me quite a bit
about the origins and history of the HIV virus. I have also been in
contact with a couple of families who have or are in the midst of
adopting a child with HIV.

I know that there are so many kids in Ethiopia (and all over the
world) who are HIV+ and in need of loving homes. My heart goes out
to all of these kids. And I am longing to know more about HIV and
the issues and complications that these kids will likely have to
endure in their lifetimes.

I know from reading your blog that you work with people who are
HIV+. Do you have any references, books, websites, etc. that you
would recommend people read in order to learn more about HIV?

What is the prognosis for kids who are HIV+ in the world today? I
have read in several places that HIV is now considered a chronic and
manageable disease. Is this true in most cases? What are some of
the common medical complications that HIV+ children have to endure?

Do you have any advice for adoptive parents who are considering
adopting a child who is HIV+?

Do you know of any Infectious Disease specialists or any HIV
specialists locally by any chance?

One of the biggest worries I have is not about the medical aspects of
HIV, because I think we can handle those (as parents you deal with
what you have to in that regard, there are no guarantees of health
with biological children either), but I am worried about the social
aspects of HIV. It is still a disease that carries such a negative
social stigma (though I still haven't figured out why). How can
parents become prepared to deal with these social issues? Who do you
tell? Who do you not tell? How do you deal with discrimination
against HIV+ children?

Do HIV+ children pose a risk to other children in their homes,
schools, churches, etc.?

My friend is a nurse and I couldn't believe her response to my comment
that we might consider an HIV+ child. At first she asked me why we
would do that...and then when I told her that my understanding so far
is that they don't pose a great risk to other people as long as you
take precautions in the rare occasions when they are needed. I
mentioned that it was considered a chronic yet manageable disease and
her comeback was "yes, but its an INFECTIOUS disease". How can we
educate ourselves about HIV and the risks...and then how can we
educate our friends and families to understand the issues?

I would appreciate any help that you could provide. I feel like I am
asking "stupid" questions sometimes, but I really want to be able to
make an educated decision about this for our family. We do not have
any children, so our adopted children will be our firsts. We may or
may not add biological children or other adopted children in the

Even if we decide that adopting a child that is HIV+ right now is not
right for our family, it may be right for our family later. And, if
it still isn't, I certainly want to support the adoption of HIV+
children. They are so deserving of loving families.

Did you visit AHOPE when you were in Ethiopia? If so, can you tell
me about the kids there?

Thank you again...I hope that you and your family have a very
wonderful new year!"


Raskell Party of 8 said...

My Question - Should people share that they are adopting an HIV child or keep as a need to know basis?

Laura said...

Good question, S. My question is does health insurance cover the child or do they consider it a "pre-existing condition?"

Brianna Heldt said...

These were all such great questions and I look forward to your answers!!!

7,812 Miles said...

I'm looking forward to the answers, too!