What I Want You to Know is a series of
reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series, 
click here. Today’s guest posts is by Beth.

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First
things first- HIV+ adoption is on the rise. If the mention of HIV makes
you think of immediate death, then you need to pull your knowledge of
the disease out of the eighties, rip off its neon leg warmers, and
introduce it to 2012. A little research will reveal that HIV is now like
diabetes’ older tattooed brother- it can be a real bully, if left to
its own devices, but with a stern talking to and some medication, it can
be a managed, well-behaved disease. In fact, on current meds, the viral
load (amount of HIV in the blood) is negligible. People with HIV are
living normal life spans, getting married, having HIV negative babies,
living life.

I want you to know how isolating it feels to hear
people in the medical profession lecture me on how incredibly risky it
is for us to adopt an HIV+ child and how we should prepare ourselves to
get it, when all of the research we’ve done on our own indicates that
the risk of transmission is so minimal that it’s a non-issue.

I
want you to know that I plan on touching my daughter sans rubber
gloves. I plan on tickling, hugging, kissing, sharing drinks, taking
naps, cuddling, swimming, snuggling, and doing all of the other things
that kids deserve to have.

I want you to know that it’s okay to
ask us questions…within reason. We decided to not keep it a secret so
that people could learn more about the disease and its modern
treatments. If you’re curious, I’d be happy to direct you to more
information.

I want you to know that it’s not okay to ask
questions like, “Will anyone ever marry her?” because we can’t answer
that. I want you to know that if you ever ask a question like this while
she’s in earshot, I’ll rip off your face and throw it under the couch
with the rest of my “faces of insensitive people” collection.

I’m
disappointed in myself that I didn’t take the time to learn more about
this disease and its devastating effects before we looked into adopting a
positive child. I want you to know that I think it SUCKS BIG TIME that
people in developing countries are dying of this disease when the
(expensive) medicines to control it exist. I think that it SUCKS BIG
TIME that HIV positive women in developing nations are having to chose
between watching their babies starve to death or risking the
transmission of HIV through their breast milk. Across the globe, there
are sick people who could get better but aren’t because they have a
disease that has been highly politicized and “controversial” from the
beginning.

And you need to know this- if blogs and lectures and
articles and infectious disease doctors don’t change your mind, if you
choose to persist in your belief that you will catch HIV if you’re in
the same room with us, that our daughter is somehow less because she was
born with a disease, then we probably won’t have room for you in our
lives when our daughter finally arrives. She’s important to us. If
we’re important to you, then you’ll get educated.

I want to assure you that we know HIV is a big deal, but we want you to know that it’s no longer as big a deal as you think.

Want more information?
Project Hopeful
Positively Orphaned

AIDS map
AVERT