A little girl in our Primary has HIV, contracted during birth from her late mother. Now a US citizen, adopted by a wonderful family, this sweet 7-year-old has “no viral load” because she’s getting excellent medical care, so she is no danger to the other children. The only danger to her is due to her compromised immune system: if she catches the flu from another child, it can put her in the hospital.
Members who are infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or who have AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) should be treated with dignity and compassion. Some people with HIV are innocent victims of the acts of others. Attendance at Church meetings by persons with HIV infection or AIDS does not pose a serious health problem. Public health authorities affirm that HIV has not been transmitted through casual contact in homes, schools, churches, or places of work. Those who occasionally may need to clean up blood or render first aid should learn and follow the recommendations of local health officials.”
It may not surprise you to know that the Lord planned ahead for this little girl: her CTR 4 class is team taught by two women who are both nurses.
Here are excerpts from the letter that the caring, sensitive Primary president sent when Rachel (not her real name) and her family first came to church:
Dear Parents of our CTR 4 Class,
I want to inform you about a recent addition to our CTR 4 class. We have been excited to welcome Rachel into our Primary. Rachel’s mom has been very open about sharing that her daughter has HIV. My goal in sending this email is that all of us can be informed and educated about this virus. Here are Rachel’s mom’s words about her daughter’s condition:
“Rachel was an innocent victim. She was one of four children left when her parents died. Her siblings were sold into slavery. Rachel was ‘lucky’ that she was too ill for that fate. Modern HIV treatments are truly a miracle and I’m so grateful Rachel is here and can benefit from these advances. Our family has chosen to be open about Rachel’s status so that she doesn’t grow up feeling like a piece of her is bad. I recommend the following 3-minute video (titled “Truth Pandemic: Get the facts about HIV/AIDS and Adoption”) to understand HIV better and how it does and doesn’t spread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE9XnX7WRog Here is an additional helpful government resource from AIDS.gov: “How you get HIV/AIDS” and a useful educational resource: “Redefine Positive.” I’m never offended by curiosity or questions and welcome the chance to share with folks!”
My understanding after speaking with the mom on the phone and studying the resources mentioned above is that it is very safe to have Rachel in our Primary without any threats to other children. Rachel’s system is able to fight off most illnesses that are common to other children (i.e. a cold) but true influenza would be very dangerous for her. Thus, as expected anyway, children with known fevers should be kept home from church.
Rachel’s Primary teachers (who are also nurses) have already established some precautions in class just to be extra careful both for Rachel and for the other children. Any snacks are given to children in individual ziplock bags. They are told to simply eat their own and not to share them, not because of danger to the other children, but to protect the little girl from getting the flu. No one has been singled out in this but it has simply been established as a classroom rule. Both teachers carry plastic gloves with them if needed for anyone who is bleeding. The mom has generously offered to provide two first aid kits for us, one for the CTR 4 classroom and one for the Primary closet. If Rachel ever gets a bleeding cut or bloody nose, one of her teachers will take her immediately to her mother while the other teacher will stay with the rest of the class.
I welcome any questions or concerns. The mother has also said that she is open to talking with anyone with questions. My hope is that as a Primary and as a ward family we will welcome Rachel and help her feel as she truly is – a beloved daughter of God. I hope that Rachel can always feel that church is an emotionally safe, accepting, and loving place to be. Thank you for your support!
(Signed by the Primary President)
Yes. I think that’s just what Jesus would do.