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Los Angeles County Investigating Couple After Child Died of AIDS-Related Pneumonia Without Ever Having HIV Test

September 27, 2005

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services is investigating a couple for possible child endangerment after their three-year-old daughter died earlier this May of what the county coroner said was AIDS-related pneumonia, the Los Angeles Times reports. The girl's parents refused to have the girl and her eight-year-old brother tested for HIV even though their mother, Christine Maggiore, is HIV-positive and breastfed both the children. Maggiore does not believe that HIV causes AIDS and is the founder of Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, a not-for-profit organization that challenges "common assumptions" about AIDS, according to the Times. Maggiore said her daughter's death has not changed her views on HIV, and she and her husband, Robin Scovill, have questioned the coroner's findings and are sending the report to another reviewer. Jay Gordon, a Santa Monica, Calif., pediatrician who treated the girl since she was one year old, said he regretted not demanding that she undergo an HIV test. "It's possible that the whole situation could have been changed if one of the doctors involved -- one of the three doctors involved -- had intervened," Gordon said. But another doctor involved in the case, Paul Fleiss, said he did not believe it would have been right to force Maggiore to get her daughter tested for HIV. DCFS officials said they have launched an investigation to determine whether the parents should be forced to test their son for HIV infection. Maggiore said that since her daughter's death, she has had her son tested for HIV three times and that the tests came back negative each time. Maggiore said she has spoken with the police and plans to meet with DCFS officials this week (Ornstein/Costello, Los Angeles Times, 9/24).

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