Two years ago, a friend and I were taking a long drive to the beach when she told me about her hopes of adoption. I was very excited and eager to talk about her plans. She then told me she hoped to adopt a child with HIV or AIDS. I grew silent. As politely as I knew how, I began asking questions. “Won’t this put your other kids at risk?” “How will you handle all the medical challenges?” “What is the life expectancy of someone with HIV?” My friend quickly educated me on the advancements of HIV/AIDS treatments and the unfortunate stigma still attached to the illness.
NO, you cannot get HIV from sharing a drink.
NO, you cannot get HIV from hugs.
NO, you cannot get HIV from sharing a bath.
AND the life expectancy of someone with HIV/AIDS can be normal if given the right medication.
She told me of a blog she was reading by a woman named Carolyn Twietmeyer. Carolyn’s family had adopted one child with HIV and another child with stage 4 AIDS, (among their 7 biological kids and four other adopted children.) After bringing them home, Carolyn started a non-profit to help educate, advocate, and encourage families in similar situations.
Here is the Twietmeyer family on The Today show:
Unfortunately, the stigma associated with HIV still exists, and children with the illness often suffer from isolation and prejudice due to the fear and miseducation of those around them. One adoptive mother (whose blog I read) mentioned that many of her friends and family stopped coming to the house after she adopted a little girl with HIV. They were fearful they would catch the virus, frustrated that she was being "too radical", and making claims that simply weren't true. This was not only hurtful to her and her child, but infuriating, as her own network of friends/family were allowing their lives to be dictated by an unfounded fear.
Thankfully, organizations like Project Hopeful are working hard to advocate for these kids, educate the public on the REALITY of the illness, and enable families to adopt.
You can check them out here.