Have you visited orphandoctor.com yet? This website was founded by pediatrician Jane Aronson, a doctor who specializes in advising families who have adopted or are considering adopting a child internationally. She is herself the mother of two sons, Desalegn from Ethiopia, and Benjamin from Vietnam.
New on the Orphan Doctor site this week is a great FAQ titled Medical Issues Common To Ethiopian Adoptees. This FAQ was put together by a mom from my adoption agency with the approval of Dr. Aronson.
This is probably the most complete article on the internet when it comes to the health issues of Ethiopian children. Did you know, for example, the latest recommendations on HIV testing?
HIV – In addition to an arrival screen, the HIV test should be repeated about 6 months after arrival. The test used may be either an ELISA (tests for HIV antibodies) or PCR HIV DNA (tests directly for HIV presence). (For more information on these tests, consult your doctor, local Health Department, or one of the online medical resources below.)
Children over 18 months. Dr. Aronson recommends the HIV ELISA with confirmatory Western Blot for children over 18 months of age. A PCR may be advisable for a child over 18 months of age who was at higher risk of exposure (e.g. was found abandoned, had an immediate family member believed to have died from AIDs, etc.) or who had a positive test in Ethiopia.
Children under 18 months. Dr. Aronson strongly recommends a qualitative PCR HIV DNA for children under 18 months. The ELISA is less accurate for children under 18 months because they may test positive for HIV if the birth mother was infected with HIV without actually being positive themselves. The ELISA looks for antibodies, which babies may receive from an HIV-positive birthmother and carry for 18 months. If they test negative twice with the PCR, they are considered HIV negative. This does NOT mean the baby was infected with HIV and then “cured,” but has experienced what is popularly referred to as “seroconversion” or “conversion to negative.”
That is just one snippet of important info to be found on this FAQ. Read it. Print it off. Make a copy for your child’s pediatrician. You and your doctor will almost certainly learn something from it.
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