Can you believe that there is an estimated 650,000 orphaned children in Ethiopia due to AIDS?
Since our decision to adopt an HIV + child, Andrew and I have been doing a lot of research on HIV/AIDS and thought we would share the basic information. Hopefully this will help answer some of the questions we have been receiving.
HIV stands for: Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus is different than other virus' in that it searches and destroys the body's T-Lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) while continuing to replicate the virus in the body. In a sense, the virus kills the body's own defense system.
AIDS stands for Acquired Imunudeficiency Syndrome. The diagnosis of AIDS is determined by a very low T-cell count as well as signs of serious infection. The time it takes for HIV to turn into AIDS varies from a few years to many years. Once someone has AIDS, it is very difficult for the body to fight off infections and other viruses due to the lack of T-cells. A person with AIDS is vulnerable to opportunistic infections and can die from an infection that a healthy person could easily fight off such as the flu.
How can an HIV + person be treated? The good new is that there are Antiretroviral medications available that can slow and even halt the destruction of the immune system. The problem is that these drugs are very expensive and are not readily available in underdeveloped countries. It is a blessing to hear that a child who is treated with these antiretrovial drugs could live the rest of his life without developing AIDS. However, it is estimated that only a very small percentage of children are treated these medications in Ethiopia as well as other under developed countries.