There are two myths I want to debunk.
1. HIV people are just going to die.
2. HIV people don't deserve to have children because they'll just pass on the virus.
Just chatting to friends, it amazes me sometimes how ignorant we all are about HIV. That includes certain Doctor friends - and I'm not harping on about promiscuous behaviour. I'm talking about the understanding of where modern medicine has got us. Basically, to the point where people who are infected with HIV can lead normal, healthy lives. And have children if they want to.
This all sparked off from an article I read in the Sunday Times on the 18th March 2007. I can't find it now - but it basically covered the heart-warming story of an HIV positive couple, living in a Cape Town township who were too poor to afford the correct medical means to have a baby when you're living with the disease - but did the best they could.
They both took ARV's, got their viral loads as low as possible and had a baby. An HIV negative baby.
Now, the proper way to do it would be full doctor co-operations, ARV's, sperm washing and in vitro, optimal birthing conditions and PMTCT care (Preventing Mother To Child Transmission). PMTCT includes the use of Nevirapine (or other), formula feeding and other safety precautions. These decrease risk - right down to 1% or less if followed correctly. It's a decision the parents have to make, nobody can make it for them.
The couple from Cape Town couldn't afford the sperm washing and in vitro. Luckily everything went well.
So, even though this is not the entirely safe way to go about things - surely it acts as a beacon of light to the ignorant amoung us. HIV people can lead normal lives, have children and live a long time with the correct medication. It's not a death sentence.
The sooner we realise that, the closer we come to de-stigmatising the disease that is not going to go away.
I'm just little me. Hopefully someone will listen.