Category Archives: HIV/AIDS Education

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 While society waits for a cure we must continue to press forward to conquer outdated fears and stigma related to the virus.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.

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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

Your Questions Answered: HIV and Reproduction

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: How does HIV affect an adult who is married (and therefore sexually active) to a person who is HIV-? How would the couple go about having a child who is healthy without compromising the health of the spouse who is HIV-?
~Anonymous

ANSWER:
A couple where one partner is HIV+ and the other is negative is called an HIV discordant couple. The good news for discordant couples is that there are options available and child-birthing IS possible for them.

New research shows that early treatment for the HIV-positive partner can reduce transmission between discordant sexual partners 96%

To help us answer today’s questions regarding conception and reproduction our good friend, Linda Walsh, NP, Clinical Director of the University of Chicago Adoption Center shares some information:

To answer the question about conception depends on which partner (woman or man) is infected with HIV as to what strategy will be utilized. Being on a stable ARV regimen, having an undetectable viral load, not having other STDs all decrease the risk of transmission, but do not eliminate it entirely.

There is a technique called sperm washing [for positive men], also artificial insemination is an option [for protection for either a negative man or a negative woman.] And there is some data on doing it the old fashioned way with an undetectable viral load, etc.

Most of my patients, who are young adults/adolescents, have not used the sperm washing technique. All have been young women who’ve had children that are thus far HIV negative. I have no knowledge of any of their partners becoming positive.

Avert.org tells us more about sperm washing:

This involves separating sperm cells from seminal fluid, and then testing these for HIV before artificial insemination or in vitro fertilisation. Sperm washing is a very effective way to protect both the mother and her baby, but it is only available at a few clinics and can be difficult to access, even in well resourced countries.

About.com adds:

Sperm washing is a technique that was first developed in Milan. The concept of sperm washing rests on the premise that HIV resides mainly in the seminal fluid of an HIV positive male. Sperm washing concentrates and separates the fertilizing sperm from the infectious seminal fluid. During ovulation, the woman is then artificially inseminated with the concentrated sperm. Without the infectious seminal fluid, the theory is that the risk of the woman being infected with HIV is greatly reduced, thereby reducing the risk of vertical transmission (transmission from mother to child) as well.In July, 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) issued new HIV and AIDS guidelines on PMTCT (preventing mother to child transmission) and on HIV and breastfeeding.

According to the 2010 guidelines, all HIV positive mothers, identified during pregnancy, should receive a course of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to prevent mother to child transmission. All infants born to HIV positive mothers should also receive a course of ARV drugs and should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months and complementary fed for up to a year.

The risk of transmission from mother to infant without medications is approximately 30%. With PMTCT medical care that number plummets to approximately 1%.

A great resource for learning about comprehensive care is: HIV/AIDS Care and Counseling by Alta van Dyk . You can read the book online HERE

If you’re enjoying this series let us know in the comments below.