Wednesday, 03 Sep, 2008 Health & Fitness

Americans Adopt More Children with HIV from Ethiopia


More Americans decide to adopt HIV-positive kids from abroad, U.S.-based Adoption Advocates International says.

The agency's figures show a steady increase in a number of HIV-positive adoptions, reaching 38 of such adoptions this year. In 2005 Americans adopted two children from Ethiopia, four in 2006 and as much as 13 in 2007.

According to the statistics, almost 14,000 children in Ethiopia are born with HIV annually. Ethiopia has become one of the most popular adoption centers among other countries like China, Ghana, Haiti and Russia. There are just about five HIV-positive children adopted in these countries annually, the U.S. adoption agencies report.

People adopting children with a deadly virus have different motivations, including religious beliefs, desire for social change and the fact that these days the disease can be better controlled than before.

For Julie Hehn, a 53-year-old woman from Edmonds, Wash the adoption of Tsegenet, an Ethiopian girl with HIV virus had more personal grounds. The woman already has 27 children, and 24 of them are adopted. "I fell in love with Tsegenet and it just happens she's HIV-positive," said Hehn.

It is known that none of the children adopted via Adoption Advocates International agency in Ethiopia has died.

Margaret Fleming, one of the members of the Chances By Choice, an international HIV-positive adoption advocacy organization, helped 52 HIV-positive children to find a family. She also adopted three children with HIV, driven by a desire to make some difference in the world.

Nowadays, HIV is more manageable with a help of medications and sometimes the costs of a treatment would reach up to $1,500 a month, though with health insurance it might be less costly. In some cases, like for adopted 9-year-old Tsegenet, for example, the medications are not required as the level of HIV is quite low.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt assured that HIV-positive adopted children pose no public health threat in the United States. Congress plans to cancel the requirement to get waivers to enter the US as this makes the 9 to 12 months adoption process even longer.


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