Saturday, August 23, 2008

HIV Facts

This is not a typcial post for me, but for some reason I had a thought this morning as I was getting out of the shower. We committed to Kerwin knowing about his CP and hearing loss. However, we did not know what other issues we may have had to deal with but we he was ours no matter what. In the process of the adoption he visited several different doctors and had blood work drawn. Even though we didn't suspect anything to show up, we were so relieved to see HIV negative, Sicle Cell negative, and a host of other negatives. However, today I let myself think "What if?" And then I thought about other orphans living with HIV. Will they ever have the chance to be joined with a loving family an be given all the opportunities that parents fight for for their children? Well tonight, I came across a blog that I had never seen before and here this woman was copying a post she had read on the blog of a family who had adopted a child with HIV. It was suggested that each person who saw the post should tell two more, so that more people will be educated about the truth about children living with HIV. Please help educate others about this misunderstood topic.

But isn't HIVContagious?

HIV is a very fragile virus, and there are very specific ways that it is transmitted. HIV is only transmitted when the virus enters the bloodstream. This only occurs through sexual contact; through the use of contaminated needles or other sharp instruments, or receiving a transfusion of HIV-infected blood products; and from a mother who is HIV-infected to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, labour and delivery, and breastfeeding. HIV transmission does not occur with normal household contact. It is not transmitted through tears, saliva, mucous or other bodily fluids. It is considered a "communicable" disease - meaning you can't simply "catch" it. In addition, when an infected person is on treatment, the levels of HIV in the blood are brought so low that they are considered undetectable - meaning the possibility of transmission - even through contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluid - is that much more remote.

Aren't these children going to die after their families bring them home?

Many people don't realize that the prognosis for children on treatment for their HIV is excellent. They are expected to live long, normal lives. In fact, in the west, HIV is now considered a chronic illness rather than the terminal disease it used to be. Sadly, this isn't the case for those HIV infected children living in resource-poor settings, where 50% of infected and untreated children are not expected to live past the age of two.
Is it true that you can have HIV and not develop AIDS?
Absolutely! There are over 30 medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of HIV, and more are in development. These medications bring the levels of the virus so low in the body that the virus can be considered undetectable in the bloodstream. Patients receiving treatment for HIV can expect to live long, healthy lives without developing AIDS.

What about all of the children who don't get adopted?

We recognize that adoption is only a band-aid answer. It is one small piece in a big puzzle - we are working to provide holistic HIV+ orphan care through our Hope Houses launch in Ethiopia.

What if I catch HIV from my child?

Many people don’t know that HIV is a very fragile virus. As soon as it leaves the body, it begins to die. There are no documented cases of HIV transmission through casual household or school contact. HIV+ children can (and do!) share cups, baths, pools, dishes, bathrooms, etc.! In addition, when children are on treatment for their HIV, the amount of the virus in their bloodstream can be brought so low that it is considered “undetectable” – meaning the amount of the virus in the blood, even through contact with blood, has been brought so low that the possibility of transmission has become even more remote.

What if my other children touch her blood?

Most households with HIV+ children find that this was one of their initial worries and, in fact, becomes not much of a worry at all once their kids are home together. There are very few activities where the blood of one child would enter the bloodstream of another child. Families simply train their children never to touch another person’s blood or “owies” and practice universal precautions in their homes (using gloves when dealing with blood, covering all sores with a band-aid, etc.).

What if no insurance company will cover my child?

Here’s the great news! It is a legal requirement that all adopted children be added to group insurance plans without pre-existing condition clauses in all 50 states! And many states also require that private insurance plans do the same! In addition, all 50 states have funding programs that will assist with the costs of HIV treatment within specified income guidelines. For specific information on your state's programs and insurance requirements, please request our State Fact Sheet for your state.

Here's the address to a blog devoted to bringing children with HIV home to their forever families.