Review Of Literature
Women/Mothers Infected with AIDS
As stated by Ruth Ann Van Loon in Redefining Motherhood: Adaptation to role change for women with AIDS women represent 16% of all adults infected with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, more commonly referred to as AIDS. In 1998 studies revealed women were being infected with the virus at a faster rate then men. A staggering 57% of females infected with the disease are African American and 27% of those infected are Hispanic. 21% of women infected with AIDS are in their twenties. Although the age group with the highest percentage of women infected with the epidemic are women in there thirties which constitutes for 43% of females infected with AIDS. Women in their forties, similar to women in their twenties, make up 21% of the AIDS infected female population. In 1999, studies show that 40% of women contracted the disease through heterosexual relations. 42% of contracted the disease through injecting illegal substances. The 15% that was originally reported no risk factor was actually followed up and as a result two thirds of those cases were because of heterosexual relations(pg2). The HIV transmission risks reported by the women included sex with an intravenous drug user (27%), sex with seropositive partner (60%), sex with a partner who had bartered sex for money or drugs (13%), or sex with a gay or bisexual partner(23%). Twenty nine percent of the women reported drugs during their life time( Gardner; Preator, pg2).
75% of female patients that fall in to the afore stated categories mentioned were parents.
Many children are orphaned due to the illness, they are the reffered to as AIDS orphans . These children give the evidence of how many mothers die of AIDS by estimating the amount of children that were given up for adoption due to the death of the mother as a result of the epidemic. Studies have shown it is estimated that there would 80,000 that would lose their mothers to AIDS and become an AIDS orphan. There are many concerns a mother with aids would have, the following quote portrays a few of them. Mothers with AIDS face a number of psycho-social concerns, including finances, housing, health issues, death and dying, and concern for their children with HIV. Their children s future, child care arrangements when sick, guilt and self blame for their inability to care for children. As previously stated in the aforementioned quote, a huge concern for a mother infected with the virus is her children. In many cases, children are the motivation that keeps their infected mothers fighting to stay alive.
Mothers with AIDS hold a fighting spirit style rather then the helpless/hopeless style who many infected hold. Even though children do motivate their infected mothers wills to live they are also seen as sources of stress and worry for the mother. Motherhood changes drastically as a result to being infected with the virus. The AIDS virus makes everyday menial tasks difficult to perform, especially those that involved physical activity. An example of such is taking her kids to the park, disciplining the child and other obligations similar to those mentioned. The virus can also cause stigma and isolation for he or she that has the virus, which could cause the child to suffer from neglect which invariably affects the child s well being. Another result of the virus is loss in the family s social network, which brings the family apart (Gardner; Preator, pg5).
The physical effects of AIDS on children
AIDS could be the one of leading causes of death in children. HIV infected infants have a 25% chance of developing AIDS before their first birthday and as time passes the chances being infected increases, thus by the child s fifth birthday there is an eighty percent chance of developing the virus(Jacqueline Mok,1). Once the virus is developed in a child AIDS causes abnormalities in the human body and one of these abnormalities is neurodevelopmental abnormalities. Neurodevelopmental abnormalities are commonly found in pediatric AIDS , 78% to 93% of children had this abnormality with the HIV infection. The child s motor, cognitive, communication, social, and behavioral areas are all affected by the+ aforementioned abnormalities. Although some of these developmental abnormalities are a result of pediatric AIDS some are more common in children than others. An example of such is a study on 69 children with the HIV virus. Most (65%) had some form of progressive neurological deterioration. About 25% had a more stable picture of neurodevelopmental abnormalities. Ten percent appeared ro have no gross neurological dysfunction during the four- year period. After the four year period of conducting this study, the end resulted in the children having reached a plateau after a number of years. What seemed at one point to be a progression soon came to a halt when the results started to go down hill. In terms of the children s health and developmental skills they slowly deteriorated.
Treating AIDS in women and children
Studies have shown that three drug combinations are highly more effective then if taken separately. The name given to these combination drugs is HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy). Although a test done on 76 patients showed no decrease of the viral load in 30% of women. This in fact, put the women in a worse condition then they were in before the treatment because it was such a let down. The study showed men have a higher success rate then women. The reason being is because women have more CD4(+) cells then a man. CD4(+) cells are A protein embedded in the outside of immune system cells called helper T-lymphocytes, or T cells. The protein allows scientists to identify helper T cells, also called T4 cells. The protein is also used by HIV to infect these cells. The number of T4 cells in a blood sample is used to measure the health of the immune system in people with HIV (http://www.aidsinfonyc.org). Women have no choice but to accept these treatment along with therapy, because treatments are very scarce. There is also the option of homeopathic treatments, but treatments like HAART are found to be the most successful (Henderson, pg1).
On the other hand, in the case of children the most popular treatment for the AIDS virus is the use of chemotherapeutic agents like AZT (zidovudine) and ddl (dideoxyinosine). As aforementioned a the very serious result of HIV in large amount of children was neurodevelopmental deterioration and the drug AZT has been known for stopping the deterioration in HIV infected kids temporarily. Another essential form of treatment for the child would psychological support. It is recommended that the whole family go for therapy, these components are the most essential part in the child s treatment. The child must also be made to feel as normal as possible especially in the school setting. The staff must look after the child closely because of frequent illness and the gradual deterioration that the child will go through possibly at school. Death and dying must also be dealt with openly with the infected child.(Cohen; Papola; Alvarez pg2)