A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Info on HIV+

Hi all,
I was reading one of my favorite blogs - she is a mom of a family somewhat similar to mine (though she has 12 children, while we only have five!!). They are a multiracial family, having bio children, and internationally adopted children. Anyway, this was her post today:

I have a friend 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.

Hi - it's Christy again. I have learned these amazing facts about HIV prior to our adoption. At that point I had not learned any of this. It was amazing to me that the medical specialists compared living with HIV+ diagnosis similar to living with Type 1 diabetes. It really made it concrete for me, as our middle child has been diagnosed with type 1 for nearly five years now. We know that it is intense, that there is a lot of medical care, that medications are absolutely critical to our child's health and survival, but to compare it to HIV really brought home how far we have come in the HIV/AIDS crisis. I have to admit that the AIDS crisis is significant to me, as one of my sons was orphaned by AIDS. I am blessed that my children are healthy, but there are many parents raising children with HIV. It is possible, and these families deserve our support. Perhaps the hardest part is all the misconceptions.

When we were learning about Ethiopia and all the issues there (prior to my travel) I was amazed to learn that initially HIV was passed in Africa through vaccinations! You have to understand that initially, glass vials and glass syringes were used when penicillin became available, and the same needle was used for hundreds of people for mass vaccinations/medications. In may cases there was not the funds or electricity to sterilize the needle between uses. Even now with plastic syringes and disposable needles, due to poverty, needles are used for many people. Literally hundreds at a time. I would highly recommend that you read the first couple chapters of "There is No Me Without You" by Melissa Faye Greene. She is a journalist, so researched it so very well and presented it in a way that made a lot of sense. Anyway, now HIV is spread through what we consider the "normal" ways - drug use, sexual contact, birth, blood to blood contact, but continues to be spread through use of medical needles, especially in rural areas. And things just continue. It all adds to the tragedies of what is happening there, the poverty and sadness. And that is for another blog. How can you love a place so much, a people so much, and feel so helpless? Like I said, another blog!

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