Sunday, September 2, 2012

HIV & Our Everyday

I have been waiting for this post for awhile.  I wanted to really speak truthfully and experiential about it when I finally wrote it..... When we agreed to HIV+ adoption, we did not know what Chernet's health would be. He could have been very ill....had TB in the past....had other opportunistic or AIDS-defining illnesses....had a very low CD4 count or high viral load..... or all of the above.  Regardless, we were said "okay."  We said yes. 

Chernet got off the plane around 1:00 am on Monday, July 23.  At three o'clock in the afternoon this neurotic pediatrician mom had us at the Infectious Disease clinic for blood work (after filing for insurance of course).  He was is skinny and I was quite worried about his health.  He hopped his tiny tail up in the chair and did little more than smile as they drew about 11 vials of blood from his little arm.  They drew CD4 (immune system cell that HIV attacks), viral load (amount of HIV in his blood), electrolytes, CBC, and nutritional labs. 

Chernet was taking one and half tabs in the morning and one tab at night of Triomune Junior, a drug I later learned that is not available in the US but used in resource-limited countries.  He was also taking Bactrim, as are all HIV+ kids in Ethiopia, because CD4 counts are not regularly checked.  That first day we gave him the pill.  He easily swallowed it with a sip of water better than most teens I see at the hospital. 

We got his labs back.... his CD4 was great, in the 1500s.  His viral load was UNDETECTABLE.  His labs were otherwise unremarkable.  (the bad mom in me still hasn't sent the stool studies....tomorrow's goal).  We were all so shocked...even the ID doctors.  They had us repeat his basic test to prove he was even HIV+... he was, but shockingly well controlled.

We had a decision to make.... once he runs out of his supply of meds from Ethiopia, which have him so well controlled, do we stay on the same three meds that make up his one pill or do we switched to a more common regimen here in the US.  The medicines that make up his combination may have unfavorable side effects but switching regimens could make his CD4 drop as well other potential side effects.....

So after conversations with the ID docs, we decided to stay on the same regimen.  Once his pills run out, he will take one and half pills in the morning and at night plus 15 mLs both times. 

EVERYDAY LIFE WITH HIV (at least around here):

We really do not notice it.  That is not a minimalization of it.  Chernet takes his medicines.... and honestly, Tedi is the best reminder. 

"Uh, mommy, it is time for my vitamin and Chernet's medicine."  Thanks dear.  I realize I am a sub-par parent at times.

Tedi was a bit jealous at first, hence the implementation on the twice daily vitamins.  My parents have kept the boys without issues.  There may be some more pains when we add another liquid to it...

The only time we notice it is when someone asks about it.... normally the big questions are concerns about bleeding...that makes most people nervous... what happens if he bleeds around them?  Well, we clean it up.  That is it.  Seriously, I promise you can really get it from only from sex, needles and pregnancy....  and we are not doing that at dinner parties... Well, at least not at our house.  :-)

I will post updates about this occasionally but otherwise there is not always a ton to tell.  If you have questions, please send us an email!  We would love to answer questions.  I am giving my presentation this Thursday on HIV....fingers crossed.


  1. Thanks for posting this. Pretty much the same lab results with our toddler home from Ethiopia this summer as well. We couldn't believe it!

    Fingers crossed for your presentation this week! Hope you might consider sharing it in future.

  2. I would love to hear your presentation...which you could share with your blogger pals. :) Just want you to know that I am praying for you all.

  3. I would love to share it! I am technologically saavy enough to know how to share a powerpoint online. I would be open to emailing it.