Saturday, December 1, 2012

Raising a child with HIV

 I know I have shared on my blog before about HIV, but today is WORLD AIDS/HIV DAY!  So I encourage you to look at the picture above.  Can you tell which one in my family has HIV?  No?  Really?  It's kind of the point!  There is no difference! 
 So here is our Michael and yes he is HIV positive.  He got HIV through being born. 
 You may ask- what is different about parenting a child with HIV?  Great question- ummm...not a lot! 

**Michael has a Pediatric Infectious Disease Doctor (or PIDD for short) that he has an appointment with every 3 months.  He has to get blood drawn at those appointments to test his "HIV levels" along with his "immunity level" (these have different terms, but you get the point). 
 **He takes 3 medicines called ARV's twice a day- at breakfast and at dinner.  His are liquids because he can't swallow pills yet.  Important to note- he can not miss a dose- EVER!!!  That is the one thing you should not ever do and it has to do with how the medicines work.  Yes, I have questioned myself because I have freaked out thinking did I miss a dose! know really when you are a mom there are just some things you do.  This is something you think you won't be able to, or you freak out thinking about, but when it comes to it- you just do it, promise! 
 THAT IS PRETTY MUCH IT!!!  No for real!!!  That is it!!!!!!  REALLY!!!!!  There is no fear or worries in our home because there is no way we are going to "catch" HIV.  Let's review TRUTH - this is from they are an AWESOME organization that seeks to spread TRUTH about HIV. 
 HIV is a chronic but manageable disease
Medications called ARVs (Antiretroviral medications), and more specifically HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) which is the combination of three or more anti-HIV drugs, have significantly improved treatment of HIV/AIDS allowing it to become a chronic but manageable disease. There is a term called the Lazarus effect used to describe the amazing transformation which occurs when people who were on the brink of death begin receiving life saving ARVs. Unfortunately, around the world, people arestill dying of the disease due to lack of access to medications.
 HIV is not spread through casual contact
In the US levels of knowledge about HIV have not increased since 1987. 1 As a result many orphans with HIV/AIDS are overlooked in adoption. While there has been much advancement in medicine related to HIV/AIDS large portions of society still remain unaware of even the most basic transmission facts. They still mistakenly believe people can contract the HIV virus through casual contact or a family setting. People are unaware that HIV has never been transmitted in a normal household setting.
There are three main ways HIV is contracted: sexual contact, sharing dirty needles/syringes, and mother to infant through birth or breast feeding. HIV is NOT found in tears, sweat, saliva, urine or feces. The virus IS found in semen, vaginal secretions, blood, and breast milk.
 Mother to child transmission is preventable
In high income countries where there is access to ARV medication, mother to child transmission has been virtually eliminated. Less than 200 babies are born HIV positive in the United States every year. Children born with HIV who receive ARV medications are expected to live normal life spans.
 HIV/AIDS and the orphan
It is estimated that the number of orphans is 163 million worldwide. If all orphans lived together in one country theirs would be the 9th largest nation in the world. It is estimated that more than 15 million children under 18 have been orphaned by AIDS. Every 15 seconds, another child becomes an AIDS orphan in Africa Today alone, 5,760 children will lose a parent to AIDS In Sub-Saharan Africa it is estimated that 9% of all children have lost at least one parent to AIDS. That’s approximately 11.6 million children. Some countries are so negatively impacted by the epidemic that approximately 20 percent of all their children are
orphans – the majority having been orphaned by AIDS. In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age eighteen. 60% of the girls are lured into prostitution. 70% of the boys become hardened criminals.
Orphans and Society
Even the best orphanages struggle to meet the physical needs of children with HIV/AIDS and cannot meet the emotional and spiritual demands. Institutions are not replacement for the structure of a family.
Many of society’s greatest plagues have their roots in a common problem: orphans. Children who have never received proper care stand little chance of developing into productive members of society if society has marginalized and overlooked them time again.  Whether we are talking about extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, child soldiers, or human-trafficking, often the response to such crises should begin with the care orphans.
Stigma is a major challenge facing people infected with HIV/AIDS in the US and around the world. In the US families with adopted children who are HIV+ often suffer rejection within their communities and even among family members due to ignorance regarding transmission and stigma.  Around the globe many HIV+ individuals are shunned from their communities entirely. Relatives are afraid to care for children of
infected family members for fear of catching HIV, and also fear of the reaction of the larger community. Many orphaned children are left to the street after their parents die or are taken to institutions by anonymous people who do not wish to be associated with an infected (or even potentially infected) child.
Inside institutions where there is little or no education children with HIV can be treated poorly by caretakers, even neglected.  Often times sanitary conditions in orphanages are poor and exacerbate children’s weakened immune systems. Opportunistic infections are common among children in orphanages and can quickly lead to death for children with HIV/AIDS. Simple antibiotics could prevent fatality in children with HIV/AIDS, yet often they are unavailable in developing countries.
So there you have it.  It's really that easy to love a child with HIV!  They are no different than any other child out there.  They just make a few doctors visits, blood draws, and they take medicine usually twice daily.  That's it!!  Now you know - GO SPREAD TRUTH!!!!!!


  1. LOVE this!!!! Thanks for sharing and educating others about a cause dear to my heart. Very helpful and informative.

  2. Keep sharing and people might start listening! We have always been open to adopting an HIV child.

  3. Adopting, caring for, and loving a child with HIV isn't the problem. Our insurance has a $10K deductible each year (including medications). Do you know of programs to help pay for the cost of the drugs, which I have heard are incredibly expensive?

    1. Actually YES Kristin. The medicines have grants!!! Because let's face it- the US does not want people to go without these important meds! Sometimes certain clinics will even hand them out for free in certain states! It's true! I agree the cost of medicine is not fun, but there are ways to help too.

      I know MANY who have applied and gotten the grants for the medicines ongoing.

    We also have children with HIV!
    It is EASY to deal with! Our children are amazing!
    We plan to begin advocating for HIV adoption pretty soon!

    1. YEA!!!!!! :) I didn't know any of your sweeties were positive? ;) Awesome. It is such a non issue.

  5. Thank you so much for the great! I also see and appreciate how you are being Christ to your children, and exemplifying Him to the world. Wonderful...

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