HIV/AIDS Timeline

Take a moment to watch this excellent American news video on the advancement of HIV/AIDS over the past 30 years.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

In the years since AIDS was first discovered much has changed. What was initially a death sentence has been turned into a chronic but manageable disease through the use of HAART therapy. People who receive treatment before they reach the critical stages of AIDS can have their health restored.

Though much has been accomplished in the management and treatment of HIV a cure still needs to be found. While society waits for a cure we must continue to press forward to conquer outdated fears and stigma related to the virus.

Knowing the truth about transmission is vital to protecting our communities  from becoming infected. Understanding that HIV is transmitted in just 3 main ways and that infected individuals pose not threat when engaging in casual social contact will help society embrace our positive members. Education is key to preventing the disenfranchisement and isolation of HIV-positive community members.

When looking around at the global orphans crisis and the needs of those most vulnerable of the world’s population surely adoption for orphans with HIV/AIDS is a viable option. Especially since they pose no threat in normal family living circumstances.

Old Fears Prevent Children and Parents From Being United By Adoption

Written by Janine ( Neen ) Weir – Australian Adoption Advocate and Adoptive Mother

Few Australians would have considered adopting a child with HIV in the past. But, this is changing as new education surfaces about  children living with the virus and advances in medical treatment. While there may be Australians willing to step forward to provide a loving family for orphans with HIV/AIDS, they presently don’t have the option. Why?

Our current immigration laws prevent persons with HIV+ immigrating to Australia. Our government’s view of HIV is locked in the 1980’s -stuck in a global panic scenario about an HIV epidemic. It appears based on old fears and ignorance, not on current knowledge and facts. This prevents HIV+ adoption.

Yet the greatest need worldwide exists in this category of adoptions, and other western countries are stepping up to give these children a future .

Orphans with HIV/AIDS make a concerning percentage of the number of unparented children in the world. ( There are over 2.3 million children that are living with HIV infection, according to the 2010 UNAIDS global report.) Every hour thousands of them will die. A family really may be the difference between life and death for children like these. Family means access to proper medical care, better nutrition, love and support – All things children need to thrive with the virus

Child traffickers are NOT interested in HIV+ Orphans. Often the orphans are treated as lepers and outcasts in their countries of origin where over 50 % will die before they reach 2 years of age. Some orphanages leave these children to languish unattended without the funds to properly meet their needs. Seems most everyone is content to ignore these children. That is with the exception of a few bold and loving families prepared to raise them.

In Australia these children could thrive and bloom as amazing human beings. Their full potential could be realized in a country where they have access to the medical treatment which reduces HIV to a chronic but manageable disease. Whereas it would likely be a death sentence if they were left as orphans.

Western countries are , indeed, now adopting HIV + orphans successfully and extending the boundaries of love and family to children most desperately in need. Countries like the United States and Canada have opened their doors recognizing their citizens desire to adopt these unparented children and supporting them in this decision.(Processing immigration of an HIV+child into the USA now takes on average only 5 days)

It is the case that an Australian parent hoping to adopt an orphan from a foreign country today must endure a heartache-and-hurdles trial of gruelling waiting times and red tape.

Only 330, on average, find their way into an Australian home each year. Yet 4 or 5 times that number of Australian families regularly apply and express interest in adopting. Many families currently waiting for adoptions will “age out” before they have a chance to provide a home for an adopted child. For these families and others adopting an HIV+ child will not be unrealistic.

Our federal government can sit comfortably knowing that there will be no child trafficking scandal with HIV+ Adoption.

The risk is very clear that orphans with HIV who are institutionalized, or outcasts in lesser environments genuinely have no other opportunity for a permanent family. The cost of inaction , when Australian families are willing and keen to adopt these children is concerning.

Adoption of Orphans with HIV in many cases really can save a child’s life.

As an adoption advocate and a citizen I’d like to see my government gain the courage to update policies with facts. ( not fear and ignorance ) It is my personal hope that Australian families would be able to open their hearts and home to children who have been needlessly dismissed already in the very near future.

How wonderful that would be !

Podcasts

If you enjoy listening to podcasts here are a few on the topic of HIV/AIDS:

thebody.com ‘s This Month is HIV is an excellent resource. There are limited episodes and some are as old as 2007 but they are worth listening to.

This Positive Life is a podcast featuring the stories of HIV+ individuals living with HIV/AIDS around the world. New Zealander Marama Pala tells her story HERE.

The Momcast Podcast features Project HOPEFUL US staff discussing the realities about adopting and raising children with HIV/AIDS. The Episode features Project HOPEFUL Founder/Executive Director, Carolyn Twietmeyer

Your Questions Answered: Injuries and Clean-up

By: Jen Sloniger
Your Questions Answered
is a blog series which addresses Project HOPEFUL blog readers’ most burning questions. Please submit your questions to: media@projecthopeful.org

Question:As a mom of 5 children, I know I’ve had situations where my children are bleeding and as I rush to help them, I inevitably get their blood on my clothing, skin, etc. As the mom of an HIV positive child, how do you handle these situations? Do you grab a pair of gloves first? Or do you take some kind of drug to counteract the HIV if you do end up directly handling their blood?
~Rachel

ANSWER:Great question Rachel.

Families with HIV+ children practice Universal Precautions whenever there is a blood spill. However, it is a good idea for all families to model responsible handling of blood for their children no matter the HIV status of their family members. Kids need to learn that we never touch anyone’s blood. Teaching them about Universal Precautions enables them to offer assistance to injured persons in a safe and healthy way.

Because our family practices Universal Precautions we have a couple of kits set up in strategic places should we require them. Our main “Clean Up Kit”, as we call it, is in our kitchen. It contains a box of gloves, some antibiotic ointment, a variety of shapes and sizes of band-aids, and a few other common first-aid type ointments. I also keep baggies filled with some gloves, a few paper towels, and a variety of band-aids in my purse and in the glove box of my car.

In Universal Precautions it is suggested that an additional barrier be added between your skin and any body fluid from another person for extra protection. Most people automatically think of plastic gloves because that is what they see medical professionals wear. But, something as simple as a paper towel or a band-aid is just fine for minor cuts and scrapes. Even your clothing is a barrier between spilled blood and your skin.

Most people don’t know that healthy skin is a natural barrier against the HIV virus. So, to address your question, if some blood were to accidentally splash on your clothes or skin there would be no need to panic. Blood to blood contact presents the risk, so if you had an open wound where the blood landed, then there would be some risk, though it would be small.

While HIV may live for a short while outside of the body, HIV transmission has not been reported as a result of contact with spillages or small traces of blood, semen or other bodily fluids. This is partly because HIV dies quite quickly once exposed to the air, and also because spilled fluids would have to get into a person’s bloodstream to infect them.

It should also be noted that the amount of risk blood poses is related to the concentration of HIV virus in it. Obviously, the more virus found in the spilled blood the more the chances the blood has of transmitting HIV. In the majority of patients receiving HAART ( a combination of three or more anti-HIV drugs is often referred to as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) the medication works so well the levels of HIV in their body decreases to undetectable levels. That means that in laboratory tests the HIV virus was not able to be detected in their blood. With decreased levels of HIV in their bodies these patients present an even LOWER level risk should a blood spill occur.

You should know that since the development of HAART there has NEVER been a case of HIV being transmitted within a family. And, as you stated in your letter, families with kids tend to have to deal with blood and injuries some time or another.

If you’d like to do further research Avert.org has a great resource which addresses FAQs about transmission.

HIV Transmission Prevention Between Discordant Couples

A study including over 1,700 couples in nine countries (the vast majority heterosexual) demonstrates that early treatment with HAART medications for the HIV-positive partner can reduce transmission of HIV to the uninfected partner. Through the early intervention of treatment the risk of transmitting the virus to the uninfected partner drops by 96 percent.

You can read a brief article on the subject HERE

A more detailed one by the Denver Post can be found HERE

NAPWA as a resource

The National Association of People Living With HIV/AIDS or NAPWA website is an excellent resource for Australians living and thriving with HIV/AIDS.

Their excellent guide to getting the best treatment and care for HIV/AIDS can be found here: http://napwa.org.au/files/checklistguide_0.pdf

Australians already have the infrastructure and resources  required to provide children with HIV who are adopted internationally the care they need to thrive as productive members of society. It makes little sense for policy to discriminate against orphans with HIV/AIDS as potential adopted children of willing and able Australian parents. Especially when those orphans represent some of the most needy around the world, and the numbers of inter-country adoptions here is so low.

If Australia is allows for inter-country adoptions why not allow interested parties the option of adopting children with HIV/AIDS? Isn’t the point of inter-country adoption to provide homes for those most desperate of orphans for which no other solution can be provided?

HIV/AIDS and Australia

Avert.org is a great resource for education related to HIV/AIDS.

Find a breakdown of persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Australia HERE