Scourge of HIV/Aids hits adoptions

HYDERABAD: In what is certainly bad news, adoptions have reduced drastically in the city with 60 per cent of the abandoned children turning out to be human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive.

According to the records of the women and child welfare department, of the 125 children who were abandoned in the city and the surrounding districts of Ranga Reddy and Nalgonda, and who were potential candidates for adoption, 64 tested HIV-positive.

Children not adopted are sent to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and orphanages where medical care is given to them. However, not many are adopted as most families do not want HIV-positive children.

Due to the stigma related to HIV/Aids, the adoption rate of abandoned children has reduced from 40.3 per cent in 2007 to 36.7 per cent in 2008. "Most couples are not interested to adopt a child with a disease. In most cases, they want healthy babies to be taken into their family fold," an officer from the women and child welfare department told TOI. Children who have diseases are given to organisations which have good medical facilities.

Nikhila Henry, for TNN

Also, most children abandoned are girls whose adoption rate is less than that of the boys. "Many parents from abroad demand a health certificate for babies whom they are about to adopt. Such health-conscious people are not receptive to ideas which are related to care for HIV/Aids," one of the clearance officers said.

The NGOs which are working with HIV-positive children are also worried about the emerging scenario. "Many children who are brought to the organisation do not survive. They die at a very young age. This could be one of the reasons why many people are not coming forward for adoption of HIV-positive babies," founder and care taker of NGO Care and Share, Carol Faiser said.

Care and Share, Vijayawada, has as many as 60 HIV-positive babies in their charitable homes and get at least 10 every six months. The organisation facilitates adoption of children by Italian nationals. Health experts in the field said once the children survive beyond a certain age, they have a better chance of turning negative.

"Babies may be born HIV-positive because antibodies are passed on from an HIV-positive mother to the foetus, but they may turn negative either due to anti-retroviral therapy or their bodies develop resistance to the virus," a health expert with Apsacs said.

But then who is going to explain all this to couples interested in adoption?

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