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May 30, 1997

I hear many inquiries about infected people wanting to have children. Why do people want to have babies only to die shortly after? The emotional hardship of a fatal disease must be more traumatic knowing that you're leaving behind dependents not to mention the stress on the kids themselves (if parents live long enough for them to even understand). Even if only one spouse is infected, there is always a risk of one partner infecting the other in which case the children become orphans. I don't mean to sound insensitive, but just what are these people thinking? Maybe one of your readers could respond so I can understand.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. It is never my position to tell a person what they morally should or should not do. My position is simply to inform the public as to the medical risks of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's). With that information, it is up to the individual to decide what personal risks and decisions they wish to make.

The decision for a couple to raise a child (where one or both of the couple is HIV positive) is a very difficult one for them to make. You raise some of the issues in your question. There is no simple answer to this question, since the issues involved can vary from one couple to another. The key point to make here is that, when raising any child, to always plan ahead. This is true for all couples, not just for those with HIV. It's important to look at all sides of the issues, keeping in mind that different people view things differently. It's important to keep an open mind as to people's stance on various issues. But like anything else, when considering raising a child, to plan ahead and to look at all sides of the issue (and all options) before making a decision. Like anything else, the more information one has ahead of time, the better they are able to make important (and sometimes difficult) decisions.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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