Truth Pandemic

I slept with a girl…..and I didn’t catch HIV.

A guest post, by Jenny Clark

She is four years old. Her name is Leah Grace and she is the daughter of my friend Deb (the one I just went to Africa with). She contracted HIV through no fault of her own. She takes her meds every day like a good girl. Because of those meds, and the love of her family, she is a perfectly healthy normal little girl.

While in Uganda, I wiped her snot, drank after her, shared food with her, helped her in the bathroom….all of the things I would do with my own daughter. About halfway through the week we had some friends come and stay with us for a few nights, which caused us to have to do a little shuffle of the sleeping arrangements. I am no stranger to having children in my bed and all up in my business while I sleep, so I didn’t think twice when Leah Grace wanted to bunk with me.

But then right before I fell asleep, 1987 came back to haunt me ……for a split second.

What if she has a stomach virus and throws up on me during the night?
Is HIV present in urine? What if she wets the bed?
She got a cut on her nose today…what if it opens up while she is asleep?
  

The truth is sometimes ugly, and I really don’t want to admit it…..especially since I am on staff with Project Hopeful, and our whole objective is to shine light on the facts about HIV and to advocate for children who live with it.

But then I realized, that if I KNOW the facts, and 1987 still crept in to my mind for a split second, how would my friends react in the same […]

HIV/AIDS Adoption: Teen Selah Twietmeyer Gives Her HIV Adoption Testimony

In this powerful new interview, HIV/AIDS Infected teen Selah Twietmeyer, daughter of Kiel and Carolyn Twietmeyer tells how she was adopted from Ethiopia into her family and talks about disclosure.

“I am not ashamed and not afraid to tell the Truth”, says Selah. She also tells how stigma and misinformation about HIV/AIDS effected her while she was still in Ethiopia, before she knew she had a family who loved her. An incredible testimony!  Please share this message by reposting this link http://youtu.be/sRxDRzZxDbI .

Truth Pandemic Video Now with Spanish Subtitles

Project HOPEFUL is thrilled to announce the addition of the Truth Pandemic video with Spanish subtitles, just one of several languages that we will be making our video available in. Please share this! It has the potential to reach so many more who need to hear the TRUTH!

Truth Pandemic {Spanish Subtitles}

Together for Adoption Australia 2011

Project HOPEFUL is two short weeks from bringing a message of life and hope for orphans to the continent of Australia. Dan Cruver has written an excellent article about why we are partnering for this important event at the Together for Adoption Blog.

This is a crucial message that Australia needs to hear. Please join us in prayer that the Truth Pandemic would have a monumental impact on the people of Australia.  Please also pray that all of the funds that we need in order to send our volunteer staff members would be donated in time for us to leave.  If He has led you to give to this important event, please go to http://www.projecthopeful.org/donate , choose the General Fund and put NOVEMBER in the comments box.  Thank you for your prayers and support!

Australia 2011 from Tamara Loveing on Vimeo.

Project HOPEFUL materials now available in French

Project HOPEFUL is pleased to announce that one of our brochures is now available in French. We are really excited about the doors that will open for spreading the truth about adopting children with HIV/AIDS with the use of this pamphlet.

We would like to give public thanks to Rachele DeMeo for her labors on behalf of Project HOPEFUL of this translation work. Rachele DeMeo was born in Nîmes, France (as P.K. (Pastor’s Kid) and M.K (Missionary’s Kid)), where she spent the first nineteen years of her life, and graduated with a French Baccalaureate. After a year of College, she moved to Maryland to complete a B.A. in Education, intern for a Congressman and teach. She moved to California for a teaching job and furthered her education graduating with a M.A. Additionally she pursued a Masters in Education specializing in Teaching and Learning. She’s been translating since 1998. She’s also had experience teaching K-2, 6-12 and College-level/Adults. She specializes in teaching French, English and Italian.

She currently teaches French at MiraCosta College and is a freelance translator. She lives with her husband, 9-month old baby, 2 dogs and 3 cats in Oceanside, CA.

Thank you, Rachele!

If you would like to download this brochure, you may do so HERE .

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    Meet-Up Monday: Meet Laci Zacapu, State Associate for Washington

Meet-Up Monday: Meet Laci Zacapu, State Associate for Washington

Welcome to this week’s Meet-Up Monday post.  This week we head to the Pacific Northwest to meet Laci, our State Associate for Washington.  Be sure to leave a comment and say hello!

PH: Laci, would you please tell us how you first heard about Project HOPEFUL?
LZ: I met Carolyn Twietmyer in Ethiopia while we were there for our first adoption. Selah was with her and was so sick and I just remember being worried she wouldn’t be able to make it home. I started following Carolyn’s blog when I got back to the states so I could check on Selah’s health and that’s where I learned about Project HOPEFUL.

PH: How did you develop an interest in HIV advocacy?
LZ: I became interested in HIV advocacy after bringing my daughter who’s HIV+ home and being treated very badly when a group of people found out about it. I realized that when people don’t know the TRUTH about HIV, they will fear it and where there is fear sometimes there is a lot of anger. I wanted to join Project HOPEFUL in spreading the TRUTH.

PH: Could you share with us your own adoption story?
LZ:  In July of 2008 my husband and I went to Ethiopia to pick up our daughter who was 9 at the time. While there, we met her family including her older biological sister who was HIV +. I hate to say it, but I was actually relieved her sister was not available for adoption then because I just “knew” there was no way I’d ever adopt a child who was +. I thought I’d be putting my other children and myself in danger.
After about a year of being home though, I just couldn’t get her off my mind. […]

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    Meet-Up Monday: Meet our Maine State Associate, Shannon Wheeler

Meet-Up Monday: Meet our Maine State Associate, Shannon Wheeler

Today we’d like to begin introducing you to our State Associates. State Associations exist to promote the Project HOPEFUL vision: EDUCATING, ENCOURAGING and ENABLING families adopting children with HIV/AIDS within the individual states. Project HOPEFUL is looking for people to partner with to help us bring our educational workshops to your state. Associates will help plan events, develop relationships with local HIV/AIDS medical specialists, create social networks for local advocates and adoptive families, and more! If you would like to contact your State Associate or would like to find out how to begin a State Association in your state, please contact Deanna Jones Falchook, National Associate Director at Deanna@projecthopeful.org.

Today’s featured State: Maine
State Associate: Shannon Wheeler

PH: Hi Shannon! Thank you for taking part in our interview today. Let’s start by having you tell us how you first hear about Project HOPEFUL.

SW: The first time I heard about Project HOPEFUL was when a Facebook friend posted a news clip with Carolyn Twietmeyer’s family being featured. I was floored. I had literally no idea of the hope that exists for children living with HIV. I was among the many Americans who still thought HIV/AIDS was a certain death sentence. I sat and cried at my kitchen counter, hearing of this hope and watching this family grow and seeing the transformation of her daughter from a sick and suffering orphan to a joyful, thriving, playful daughter. It was unbelievable. I had to see this again. I had to show my husband. I had to re-post it on Facebook. And I had to get involved!

PH: How did you develop an interest in HIV adoption/advocacy?

SW: […]

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    1 in 4 Americans believe HIV Can Be Transmitted By Sharing A Drinking Glass

1 in 4 Americans believe HIV Can Be Transmitted By Sharing A Drinking Glass

You might recall the inspiration for our Truth Pandemic campaign video was the statistic by the Kaiser Family Foundation that levels of knowledge of HIV/AIDS had not increased in the US since 1987.

The newest report doesn’t offer much hope that a lot has changed. Still, 25% of Americans don’t know the three main ways HIV can be transmitted and HOW IT IS NOT. This kind of ignorance is unacceptable. Project HOPEFUL will continue our work as ever to ensure that anyone who is willing to listen knows the TRUTH about HIV/AIDS and orphans with the virus.

Have you shared our video with your friends lately? If not, maybe today’s statistic will inspire you to decrease the number of people still afraid to share a drink with a friend who is HIV+ by giving them a healthy dose of reality. Truth is contagious. Spread it

The Truth is Contagious. Spread it!

If you’ve seen our Toyota 100 Cars for Good Campaign video, it may be that you’ve wondered “’Send Me?’… Send them where?”  Perhaps you’ve been wondering how all of the threads of Project HOPEFUL tie together.

Project HOPEFUL is dedicated to educating people about HIV/AIDS and helping prospective adoptive parents understand the practicalities of raising children with the virus. We have over five years experience successfully enabling individuals and families to adopt children with HIV. Our parent workshops held in partnership with the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital Adoption Center have been hugely successful. We are pleased to say that over 95% of families who attend our forums complete adoptions of children with HIV/AIDS.

Project HOPEFUL seeks to support adoption agencies as well. Project HOPEFUL can work with agency staff to coordinate webinars for families where Project HOPEFUL staff members can answer questions about adoption and HIV+ parenting. Using our Your Questions Answered booklet as a mini curriculum and following our open Q&A format we can equip prospective adoptive parents with basic facts about HIV/AIDS and help clear up any myths surrounding the virus or parenting these children.

Project HOPEFUL is also working to partner with Local Pediatric Infectious Disease (PID) specialists in every state available to replicate our educational workshops like the ones we hold with the University of Chicago in order provide access for prospective adoptive families to the medical professionals in their area.

We at Project HOPEFUL believe that we can make an enormous impact on the future of children around the world who are HIV+ through our efforts to eradicate social stigma in every state, but we lack funding.  One way that you can make a great difference is to visit our store. […]

Your Questions Answered: Building Support Through Education

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
QUESTION: How can local church families prepare to welcome HIV+ children? How should they be preparing their congregations?
~Jennifer

ANSWER:
Hi Jennifer. Thanks for sharing your questions.

These days it is fairly common for churches to have the proper safeguards in place when operating programs for children, though some smaller congregations may not. As I’ve written about before any school, day-care, or church operating programs with children should be practicing Universal Precautions. PERIOD. If your church or group isn’t following Universal Precautions protocols then you should request that they implement them immediately for the safety of everyone involved.

As far as educating a church fellowship (or any other group for that matter) goes, it all depends on the willingness of the leadership to join you in this endeavor. Some leaders are resistant to the idea. Some haven’t confronted their own fears and stigma related to HIV and therefore are unable to lead their flock in doing the same.

However, there are many, many church leaders who are supportive and willing to promote education within their church… they simply may lack the time. My suggestion is always be willing to dig in and do any work you want to see happen. Don’t bring ideas before your leadership if you aren’t willing to invest the time and effort to bring them to fruition. Sit down and come up with a written proposal for what you hope to see accomplished. Keep it brief but make sure there is enough specific detail in there to prove you have a method to your madness. Ask your pastor […]

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    Your Questions Answered: School Disclosure and Privacy Protections

Your Questions Answered: School Disclosure and Privacy Protections

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

Today we feature related questions from two of our readers :
QUESTION 1:What are the legal implications of sending your children affected by HIV to school? Do you have to offer this information publicly?
~Andie

QUESTION 2: How do you handle negative and/or hysterical reactions [at school]?
~ Valerie
ANSWER:
I’ll Address Andie’s question first because the answer takes a little more time.

Andie, According to a 1993 CDC article1, “no cases of HIV transmission in school have been reported, and current epidemiologic data do not justify excluding children with HIV infection from school or isolating them in school to protect others. Children with HIV infection should be able to participate in all school activities with the same considerations as other children, to the extent that their health permits.”

According to the same CDC article, “despite the large number of persons participating in contact sports, only one case of HIV transmission attributed to sports had been reported worldwide.”

That was in 1993. I hunted all over for any updated numbers but couldn’t find any.

Do you wanna know why I think that was? Because there AREN’T ANY.

Today, the ability for patients to receive HAART makes it extremely likely that those numbers haven’t changed since 1993 . So, if there was only ONE sport related case of transmission WORLDWIDE in 1993, and NO cases of transmission in school, it is safe to say there is no reason for parents to be concerned about transmission in school or during sports activities these days.

As Dr. Steven J. Anderson, Chair of the Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine, and team […]

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 […]