Friday, December 21, 2012

Why HIV Matters to My Family

How much do you know about HIV/AIDS?

If you are like I was 3 years ago the list would look like this:
1. Magic Johnson had it
2. It kills people
3. It doesn't affect my life in any way

But my disinterest was blow away when I heard that there are thousands of orphans who are being overlooked because of their HIV+ status. I wanted to know more. 

The more I learned, the less I feared. 

And here is what I learned:

1. HIV is different than AIDS.

HIV is a virus that slowly weakens the immune system. AIDS is the infectious disease that some people get after their bodies have been severely weakened by HIV.

They are not the same thing.

If I have a cold, I could develop bronchitis, but with intervention my cold doesn't have to turn into bronchitis. That is the way HIV/AIDS makes sense to me.

2. Having a person with HIV living in my home does not put us at great risk.

HIV is transmitted in 3 main ways:
     Sexual contact
     Shared needles 
     Mother to infant (pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding)

The virus is NOT spread thru spit, pee, poop or tears. So that means, I can wipe away tears and change pampers and be spit on by an HIV+ person without any fear of transmission.

The virus does live in the blood. But the medical professionals have found that it is a weak virus outside the body and starts to die as soon as it is exposed to air. Even if HIV infected blood touches my blood, it is highly unlikely that I will get the virus. HIV must actually enter my bloodstream before it has a chance to infect me. 

3. People with HIV can live a long and pretty normal life.

There is so much great medicine in the Western world. When HIV+ people are put on ARV's (AntiRetroViral drugs), the HIV count in their blood drops and their immune systems start to rebuild. The lower their HIV count, the less chance they have of giving the virus to someone else (ie. thru sex, needles or birth).

The specialists and experts are predicting that in the future there will be many healthy and active parents and grandparents that are HIV+. Cool, right?



This is the video from Project Hopeful that opened my eyes. If you haven't seen it yet, it's a great 4 minute investment!

Why does knowledge matter?

We don't want to be ignorant of the plight of millions of people in our world.

We don't want to judge people or put them in a box.

People matter. All people are priceless and should be seen that way. 

For decades people have been afraid of the virus and that fear has kept those infected in hiding. There should be no shame and no judgement. Nor should ignorance keep anyone living behind a mask.

Is it necessary to divide orphans
                           between positive and negative?

There shouldn't be a great divide.

I think that if people would know the truth about the virus, there would be much less dividing. 

The Truth should be told so that 
        everyone can have a family!

Why does the truth about HIV matters to my family?

Recently, HIV became a lot more personal for me, my husband, and the 5 kids living in our home.

When we realized the truth, we knew we were called to action.

To the beautiful little girl who will soon be ours, HIV is a very personal thing too. She was diagnosed with it. She was probably orphaned because of it. 

She is not An HIV Orphan,
she is a beautiful little girl who happens to have HIV.

HIV will never define her.

Although she will manage it for the rest of her life, it will not consume her, keep her from having a mom, dad and siblings, a husband, babies, or whatever else she wants in life. Between the God of the Universe being on her side and the truth being told, anything is possible for her!

So what will this look like for us?

The day-to-day managing of the virus will be fairly uncomplicated. An Infectious Disease doctor will examine her and give us a cocktail (my hubby hates when I use that word) of drugs to be taken twice a day, for the rest of her life.

She will probably have an appointment every few months with her doctor.

When she bleeds we will use a tissue to stop the bleeding, sort of like we do with our other kids. 

We will kiss her and let her drink out of our cups and she will probably lick our lollipops and wipe her snotty nose our shoulders.

And we are not afraid.

We are hoping you will not be afraid either. 

We don't have all the answers about HIV but we continue learning. The experts don't have all the answers either. Because a lot of the medicines they are using on their HIV+ patients are relatively new, they don't have proof of the full outcome yet. They are predicting things will look better and better for HIV+ people but only God fully knows what their futures will look like. 

Let me say this again:

We are not afraid. The God who called us to this knows everything we don't and we trust Him.

We want to answer your questions and be as open as we can be. There will be some things in our little girls past that we want to keep private. But this is one thing that our family wants to keep public.

Please come to us with questions or concerns! We are very happy to talk to you about HIV and our family.

If we love each other
God lives in us
and His love is made perfect in us.

Where God's love is
there is no fear
because God's perfect love drives out fear.
1 John 4:12, 18

For more reading on HIV/AIDS visit:
The Body
Avert

For more reading on families who have adopted HIV+ children visit:
Positively Adopted
Positively Orphaned

To see the effect of ARV's visit:
The Lazarus Effect

3 comments:

  1. Just wanted to tell you I am SO excited for you all. This was also so well written :)

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  2. SO refreshing! I came across your blog while researching Ugandan Adoption. We plan to begin the process in about a year and have felt led to adopt a child with HIV. Thankful for this post!

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    1. hi kim! i love that you are open to HIV+ kids. blessings to your family!

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