I recently found out about an organization called Project Hopeful, and I wanted to share a few things I didn't know before I read their amazing Frequently Asked Questions page:
*There has never been a case of HIV/AIDS transmission as a result of normal, family life. This means that children who are HIV+ do not pose a risk to other family members in the home. Using basic precautions when dealing with blood (i.e. injuries), which everyone should be using at all times with all individuals anyway, will always prevent transmission of the disease, and HIV cannot be passed by sweat, snot, urine, feces, tears, or saliva.
*HIV is chronic but manageable disease. Children with HIV who receive treatment have a completely normal life expectancy.
*In all likelihood, the biggest challenge that children in the US with HIV/AIDS (whether they are adopted by US parents or born in the US) will face is not health-related. The biggest challenge they will face has nothing to do with their white blood cell count or cold and flu season. The single biggest challenge that HIV+ kids will face in America is stigma.
*This stigma exists because Americans stopped learning about HIV in the '80s. We were terrified by Magic Johnson's diagnosis and Ryan White's death, so we froze with fear and stopped learning. Hello, people - Magic Johnson is still alive and kicking 20 years later and he is not that young! If you had asked me a year ago whether I would want my child to be on a sports team with another child who was HIV+, I would have at least hesitated, if not immediately said no. Why? Ignorance, fear, and misinformation. If my son was exposed to HIV from a basketball teammate we have other HUGE problems because that means they were either sharing needles or having sex. If you are not worried about those two things happening in your family, classroom, sports team, neighborhood BBQ, or play group, then you should also not worry about having an HIV+ child be part of those groups or activities.
What I don't know about all this could still fill a book, but I'm glad to be learning -- better late than never!