January 13th, 2010
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Children PlayingI had another post planned, but today’s Grown In My Heart post, Who Could Possibly Want HIV+ Children? got me thinking. Before I even read the post, I sort of answered the question. HIV is on the list of conditions we would consider when adopting a child. So, my answer was, maybe me.

Oddly enough, it is through the musical and subsequent movie Rent that I discovered how much more manageable HIV has become. In the beginning, even into the 1990s, HIV was a death sentence. As scientists and doctors learn more about the disease, medications have been developed that keep full-blown AIDS at bay. HIV is a chronic condition, and one might compare it to juvenile diabetes. In fact, chief of pediatric diseases at the University of Chicago, Dr. Kenneth Alexander, says, “We would rather treat pediatric HIV than juvenile diabetes”.

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I found that quote at Positively Orphaned, a blog that advocates for children with HIV, specifically, adopting kids with HIV. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is not the same thing as AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV is spread through the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate, and breast milk. Unsafe sex, contaminated needles, breast feeding, and transmission from an infected mother to her baby at birth are the major methods of transmission. Casual contact, kissing, or sharing food and utensils cannot spread HIV.

Some statistics, from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation:

  • Nearly 1,200 children under 15 years of age are infected with HIV every day.
  • Approximately 2.1 million children were living with HIV in 2008, up from 1.6 million in 2001. Children make up approximately 6 percent of the total number of people living with HIV.
  • In 2008, more than 14.1 million children in sub-Saharan Africa were estimated to have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

When it was first discovered, HIV and AIDS were inseparable. We thought anyone who had HIV would get AIDS. However, thanks to antiretroviral medications, HIV can remain latent for decades. That is, a person with HIV will not necessarily develop AIDS.

Sadly, many people aren’t taking medications that could save their lives. Sometimes, it’s a matter of access – low-income families don’t have the money for doctors or drugs. In some regions, though, it’s also a matter of pride. So much fear of HIV and AIDS has been spread that people deny having the disease.

Up until about 2006, the United States didn’t allow children with HIV into the country. However, that has changed, due in large part to adoptive parents who wanted to adopt these children.

This post is simply an overview, you can find more information at:

If nothing else, I hope you’ve learned something new from this article. HIV doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

Photo Credit.

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