Adopting and Raising a Child with HIV

The stigma against HIV is alive and well in the US and the world, and no where does this play out more poignantly than in the thousands of orphans with HIV. Adoptive parents are often afraid of adopting a child with HIV. How sick will these children be? What is their life expectancy? How much risk do they pose to other family members? Our guest are Dr. Jan Piatt, Medical Director at the Bill Holt Pediatric HIV Clinic at Phoenix Children’s Hospital; Kate Foley, social worker and Associate Director of Outreach at Spence-Chapin Adoption Agency; and Traci Heim, a director for Project HOPEFUL, a nonprofit bringing education and encouragement for those adopting children with HIV. She is also a parent to 10 children through adoption, including a child with HIV.

Hit the Highlights
  • What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
  • We hear often that HIV is a chronic rather than terminal illness, but how can we really know since we don’t know the long term effects and efficacy of the medications used to treat HIV?
  • What are the side effects of HIV medications?
  • What is the typical medication routine for a child with HIV?
  • Do you need to have a really good insurance policy to cover these medications?
  • How do you pay for the HIV anti-viral drugs and how much do they cost?
  • HIV is a communicable illness (infectious disease), so how careful must parents be when raising a child with HIV?
  • Where are children with HIV available for adoption? What countries?
  • How much health information is available for children adopted from other countries internationally who have HIV? Will you be told if they are on HIV anti-viral drugs and for how long?
  • Will the child’s viral load be known prior to adoption?
  • How common is HIV infection in US domestic adoption, either newborn private or from foster care?
  • It used to be that it was harder, or at least more hoops had to be jumped through, to adopt a child from another country that had HIV. Is that true now?
  • When should children be told of that they are HIV positive?
  • Who do you recommend telling of your child’s status? Should you tell care givers? Teachers? Friends? Family?
  • Who do you have a legal obligation to tell that your child has HIV?
  • As children approach their teen and adult years how do they handle relationships and safety?

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Image Credit: Paul Bowman