October 10, 2012
Over the course of time we have seen many advances in medicine and medical care in the USA. In the world of HIV we have seen this clearly. Fear and shame once perpetuated the disease, and still does with lack of education. However, we are seeing people desiring to become more educated on the virus itself, and stand up for change. Because of the education we are also seeing a rise in HIV adoptions. This is a chance to provide hope and a future for the children effected by this disease outside of the United States. Children will not survive in other countries with HIV because of stigma and lack of medical help. Even if given medicine in an orphanage, they will age out…then what? Injustice triumphs when good people stand by and do nothing!
We can be the change, and stop the stigma of HIV! How? Adoption!
At MLJ there are three countries where there are children with HIV that need homes and families –Congo, Nicaragua, and Ukraine. The children are many times overlooked, and not considered. Personally I feel the reason behind this is the lack of education. There is however, a rise in people that are intentional on learning more about the disease. There are many resources and organizations that are there to educate others. Project Hopeful is a great resource on educating families and even children on the disease. The families themselves have adopted children with the virus. Their desire is to show families that this virus has become one that is very treatable and manageable. Many times the medicine that the children will take on a regular basis can cause the disease to become undetectable. This does not mean they are cured, but managing it with medical interventions. The pediatric infectious disease center or clinic in your area will be able to walk you through all of this.
Many families that already have children have a fear that the virus will be spread to the other children. However, never has it been transmitted in a normal family living situation. There are actions that you may take with an infected child as precautions. This is part of your life but it isn’t your entire life!
In the beginning I asked how we can be the change and stop the stigma. The solution I gave was adoption. To take these children into our home, being educated ourselves and educating those around us. This does not mean you have to disclose to everyone the virus that has become part of your family, (by law you only have to disclose to those in the medical profession caring for your child). However what an incredible way to share with others the stigma that many of us were taught so many years ago is not true. We can treat this and the children can live a very normal healthy life. This disease is no different than another disease. Your child may not be a cause but they will inspire you to fight for the cause!
Currently some of the MLJ staff will are visiting Nicaragua. On this trip we hope to have our HIV Nicaraguan program opened with waiting children ready to refer to families. Please do your education and see if these forgotten ones could be part of your family! Please contact Amy Moore, director of special needs MLJ, for more information on the children waiting for forever families, or more info on HIV adoption.