Blog Series

Your Questions Answered: The Disclosure Decision

Written by: Jen Sloniger
Your Questions Answered is a blog series which addresses Project HOPEFUL blog readers’ most burning questions. Please submit your questions to: media@projecthopeful.org

Today’s question is always a hot one. Several people wrote to ask us:
QUESTION: How do you decide whether or not to disclose your child’s HIV+ status. Who should I tell; who shouldn’t I tell? What is it like to be a disclosing family?

ANSWER:
Disclosure is a very personal thing. Many families choose to disclose or not to disclose based on factors like the type of community they live in, the strength of the support system of friends and family around them, their personality type, and many other things.

Of course, Project HOPEFUL is an organization which is filled with advocates, the overwhelming majority having made the decision to disclose our children’s status. If you asked our disclosing staff members I think they’d tell you that a main impetus for disclosing is the desire to flush out stigma. HIV/AIDS is no one’s dirty little secret. The issue of whether or not a family should hide their child’s leukemia, or diabetes, or down syndrome is a NON issue. I’ve never heard anyone talk about it being that child’s story which only they should share. Kids are born with many diseases yet it seems that HIV/AIDS is the singular chronic disease everyone wants to shame children for having or at least quiet everyone from talking about. No one bats an eye when a mother blogs about her child’s congenital heart defect. No one condemns her for sharing such personal information about her child without her child’s consent…. See my point?

Those of us who have disclosed did so knowing there were risks. We realized it might […]

Your Questions Answered: HIV and Reproduction

Written by: Jen Sloniger
Your Questions Answered is a blog series which addresses Project HOPEFUL blog readers’ most burning questions. Send your questions to: media@projecthopeful.org

Question: How does HIV affect an adult who is married (and therefore sexually active) to a person who is HIV-? How would the couple go about having a child who is healthy without compromising the health of the spouse who is HIV-?
~Anonymous
ANSWER:
A couple where one partner is HIV+ and the other is negative is called an HIV discordant couple. The good news for discordant couples is that there are options available and child-birthing IS possible for them. To help us answer today’s questions regarding conception and reproduction our good friend, Linda Walsh, NP, Clinical Director of the University of Chicago Adoption Center shares some information:
To answer the question about conception depends on which partner (woman or man) is infected with HIV as to what strategy will be utilized. Being on a stable ARV regimen, having an undetectable viral load, not having other STDs all decrease the risk of transmission, but do not eliminate it entirely.

There is a technique called sperm washing [for positive men], also artificial insemination is an option [for protection for either a negative man or a negative woman.] And there is some data on doing it the old fashioned way with an undetectable viral load, etc.

Most of my patients, who are young adults/adolescents, have not used the sperm washing technique. All have been young women who’ve had children that are thus far HIV negative. I have no knowledge of any of their partners becoming positive.
Avert.org tells us more about sperm washing:
This involves separating sperm cells from seminal fluid, and then testing these […]

Your Questions Answered: Injuries and Clean-Up

Written by: Jen Sloniger
We hope you enjoy the first post in our Your Questions Answered blog series. Please submit your questions to: media@projecthopeful.org

Today’s question comes from Rachel. She writes:

As a mom of 5 children, I know I’ve had situations where my children are bleeding and as I rush to help them, I inevitably get their blood on my clothing, skin, etc. As the mom of an HIV positive child, how do you handle these situations? Do you grab a pair of gloves first? Or do you take some kind of drug to counteract the HIV if you do end up directly
handling their blood?
ANSWER:
Great question Rachel.

Families with HIV+ children practice Universal Precautions whenever there is a blood spill. However, it is a good idea for all families to model responsible handling of blood for their children no matter the HIV status of their family members. Kids need to learn that we never touch anyone’s blood. Teaching them about Universal Precautions enables them to offer assistance to injured persons in a safe and healthy way.

Because our family practices Universal Precautions we have a couple of kits set up in strategic places should we require them. Our main “Clean Up Kit”, as we call it, is in our kitchen. It contains a box of gloves, some antibiotic ointment, a variety of shapes and sizes of band-aids, and a few other common first-aid type ointments. I also keep baggies filled with some gloves, a few paper towels, and a variety of band-aids in my purse and in the glove box of my car.

In Universal Precautions it is suggested that an additional barrier be added between your skin and any body fluid from another […]