Do you know? The facts about HIV

I have a friend named Erin whose family looks a lot like mine: a mix of adopted African and Asian kids along with several kids born to her. One difference, however, is that two of her precious Ethiopian children, Belane and Solomon, are HIV+. She asked readers of her blog to share these facts about HIV with two other people. Maybe some of you will consider passing on this information as well.

Today I have heard from several different parents of HIV+ children who are facing negative reactions to their adoptions based on the stigma and ignorance surrounding HIV. It is extremely frustrating to me that in 2008 there is still so much unfounded fear caused by a lack of education, that results in nasty, ugly and mean treatment of people who are HIV+ and their families. The reason people in the U.S. are not educated about HIV is that most people don’t care, because most people in this country are not affected by it. People still see it as the problem of homosexuals, drug users and people in Africa.

The reality is, HIV/AIDS is everyone’s problem. It is a devastating problem in Africa and many countries, but there are many, many Americans living with this disease as well. In fact, new cases of HIV in the U.S. are now being seen in the largest numbers in heterosexual women. HIV/AIDS is a HUMAN problem.

Living with this nasty disease is hard enough, but compounding that with the misguided fear and judgment of society is beyond tragic, and as the mom of two HIV+ children, it is sad and frustrating.

So, if you are one of the many who check in to this blog every day, I am asking you to do me a favor. I want you to tell at least two people about HIV.

Spread the word that…

– HIV can NOT be spread through causal/household contact.

HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other causal way.

It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).

– HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.

– People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do.

If anyone wants more info on transmission, there is great info on the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/transmission.htm

Help me spread the truth about HIV, and take a tiny stab at the stigma against HIV. Tell your friend when you talk on the phone. Tell your spouse. Tell your parents. Post it on your blog and ask other people to tell their readers. Ask them to pass it on as well. I would love to see this spread beyond the adoption blogs.

Even if you have no real interest in HIV/AIDS, even if you are not involved in adoption, even if you don’t think you know anyone who is HIV+… education and knowledge are always a good thing. It is so easy to say to someone, “hey, guess what I learned today?” and it is even easier to put it on a blog or in an email.Do it for me. Do it for the other adoptive families and the HIV+ orphans that are waiting for homes. Do it for Belane and Solomon. Do it for all of the other people on this planet living with HIV. If everyone that reads this blog tells at least two people, that is a whole bunch of people we can reach and a little bit of difference we can make.

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  1. Thanks for sharing. I’ve thought about this many times. I’d adopt and HIV positive child in a heartbeat. Now if God could just change the heart of my husband in this matter.

  2. Actually I did know all those facts, but it’s good to have them stated over and over again 🙂

    The most impotant thing there I feel is that this is “everyone’s problem”. This is somethng for the whole of humanity to deal with and if we all take it on board we can make it even less significant than a chronic condition.

    Kudos to your friend, she is doing a wonderful job.

  3. What is her blog address? Or is private? I’ve copied it along to my blog. I’m aware of most of the information, but there are bound to be people that aren’t – lets hope some people on Facebook have a look too (my blog is imported there too).

  4. Interesting. I have heard most of this information before, but it’s great to be reminded. I’ll post it to my blog also. We are just beginning the Ethiopian adoption process (sending in our agency app this week!!), and have discussed the possibility of adopting and HIV+ child. The thing that concerns us the most is the social stigma attached to it. Will people let their children play with our child, will he/she be accepted at our church, by our friends, etc? A lot to think about.

  5. Mary, Thank you for passing on this information. One of my dearest friends was brutally abused by her stepfather and became HIV+. Many shunned her after they found out. I was outraged and deeply saddened. It just showed me the need for more people to be educated with the true facts about HIV/AIDS. Everyone needs a hand to hold and to be shown the love of Jesus. To the woman who wonders how others will treat her child if she adopts a child with HIV… at least they would have you to love them. Just something to think about. Thanks. Sher

  6. Thanks for the info. I’m involved in getting this information to the masses in Ukraine…the country currently positioned to be the next Africa according to statistics.

    I’m curious about adopting HIV+ children…the party line here is that Americans cannot adopt HIV+ children and take them to the States unless they can show that they have the means to handle the medical costs along the way. (I assume to prevent lots of children needing government support…) Have you ever heard of this restriction?

  7. I added Erin’s link at the top of the post.

    Mary

  8. ukrainiac– All families who bring children into the US have to meet the US gov’t’s minimum income guidelines– that is, their yearly income must be at least 125% of US poverty guidelines for the number of children they will have after the new child comes home. One exception is military families– they only need an income of 100% of poverty guidelines. People who do not meet those guidelines can still adopt if they have a friend or family member whose income is high enough and who is willing to co-sponsor the child, pledging that he/she wil be responsible for the child if the main sponsor becomes unable to do so.

    These requirements affect ALL internationally adoptive parents. As far as I know, there are no special US govt requirements for those adopting an HIV+ child. In fact, many states have subsidies that help families with the cost of medications, and adopted children ARE eligible for this assistance.

    Mary

  9. HI all (and big thanks to Mary for posting this!)

    The US government used to not allow HIV+ children to be adopted. Now it is allowed, and there is an extra step to the immigration process, which adds a week or two to the very end of the adoption process. Families are required to show that they are aware of the child’s HIV status, that they have an appropriate doctor lined up to care for the child and that they have health insurance that will cover an adopted child. There are no additional income requirements other than the ones you need to meet to adopt internationally (as Mary described above).

    I hope that helps. 🙂

  10. So awesome that you posted this!