Gift of Hope: HIV/AIDS Program

Children of All Nations partners with countries around the world to place some of the world’s most vulnerable children, including those exposed to HIV. According to the Global HIV/AIDS response progress report for 2011 3.4 million children  age 15 and younger are living with HIV. Many of these children may be orphaned by this disease or in the care of the social welfare system. In the hope of providing these children with a loving family to attend to their medical and emotional needs, Children of All Nations works to advocate, educate, and provide resources to potential families who will open their hearts and minds to these special children.

Information about adopting a child with HIV

HIVAccording to the National Institute of Health, the life expectancy of HIV-positive people who have access to medical care is about the same as non-infected people. The key factor is having access to medical care. Many of the children available for adoption may not have that access unless they are adopted.  If you are considering adopting a child exposed to HIV – you will want to understand the disease and how to meet the child’s medical and emotional needs.

What is HIV?

    • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. If left untreated HIV can progress and develop into AIDS.
    • AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, and occurs when HIV advances and weakens the immune system to the point that the body can no longer fight off illness and infections.
    • While there is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, the medications that are now available to treat HIV are highly effective. HIV is now considered a chronic illness, rather than a terminal disease. HIV positive individuals who are receiving treatment can live indefinitely without developing AIDS.
    • Studies show that people who are HIV+ and have access to treatment can have close to normal life expectancy. HIV+ children can grow up, get married, have healthy babies and can expect to live long enough to meet their grandchildren.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Will adopting a child with HIV/AIDs put my other family members at risk?

Many studies have shown that family members do not contract HIV/AIDS through ordinary household activities. You cannot get HIV from sharing food and drinks or using the same bed or toilet as an HIV-positive person. You also can’t contract it from changing diapers, hugging, kissing, or from bathing or swimming with someone who’s infected with the virus.

2) How is the virus spread?

HIVHIV is spread by direct contact with HIV-infected body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, semen or breast milk.

3) How should blood spills be handled?

Split blood should be soaked up with absorbent material (cloth, rags, paper towels or sawdust), while avoiding direct skin contact with the blood. Blood spills can be cleaned up using detergent-disinfectant formulations — chemical germicides. In addition to these, a solution of household bleach and water (prepared daily) is an inexpensive and effective germicide and will kill the HIV virus when used properly. Remember to wear disposable gloves when cleaning up blood spills using chemical germicides or bleach and use them in well ventilated areas

4) Will a family’s existing insurance policy cover an adopted HIV/AIDS-exposed child?

It is a legal requirement that all adopted children be added to group insurance plans without pre-existing condition clauses in all 50 states! And many states also require that private insurance plans do the same.In addition, all 50 states have funding programs that will assist with the costs of HIV treatment within specified income guidelines.

5) What information about an HIV/AIDS-infected child needs to be disclosed?

Federal and state confidentiality laws protect disclosure of an individual’s HIV status. It is against the law to share a person’s HIV status without his/her permission. There are also many anti-discrimination laws that protect people living with HIV. A child’s HIV status should be disclosed to health care providers to ensure the best care.

6) Is it true that many infants who test HIV positive at birth convert to negative within the first year or so?

Yes. Statistics show that 75% to 80% of children who test HIV-positive at birth only have the birth mother’s antibodies and not the virus itself. A sophisticated blood test called the PCR can now determine with a high degree of accuracy by four months of age whether an infant is antibody or antigen positive.

What is the treatment?

HIVOnce diagnosed, the child will need to be monitored for the amount of virus in the blood (viral load) and the strength of his/her immune system (CD4 count, also called helper T cells). There are more than 20 medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of HIV. These medications decrease the amount of the virus in the body with a goal of undetectable virus in the bloodstream. This treatment will be life long and is usually called ART or HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Treatment). The most important part of the treatment is to ensure that the doses are taken on time and without missing any doses—which helps to prevent resistance by HIV to the medication. The goal of treatment is for the viral load to be undetectable and for the immune system to be strong. Follow-up appointments to check CD4 counts and viral loads will be every three to four months after that point.

It is recommended that all children less than one year of age who have HIV be treated with medication, as they become ill more quickly than older children and adults.

Questions to ask yourself and your family

  • Why are you considering the adoption of a child who is living with HIV?
  • What are your expectations about parenting a child who is living with HIV?
  • What are your expectations about the effects parenting a child living with HIV may have on your family? Have you talked with all family members about the expectations and discussed potential changes? How do you anticipate dealing with these potential changes?
  • Do you have experience with or do you know anyone living with a chronic acute illness?
  • What coping strategies or support systems do you feel will be important in parenting a child with HIV?
  • What research have you done on HIV/AIDS?

Program Information

Children of All Nations partners with several countries, where children exposed to HIV are available for adoption.  For additional information on each country, please visit the country’s adoption program site.