Last week, a small two year-old girl named Joanna came to the hospital for a rash. However, this was not your everyday rash….it looked horrible. She had pustules and blisters all over her body. There was not a square inch on her body (other than her scalp) free from disease.
We immediately started antibiotics and sent her to the laboratory for testing. As I handed the father the lab slip, I asked about the girl’s mother.
He replied, “She died of sickness”.
As many of you may suspect, within hours the test results came back showing she had HIV. The father was surprised and upset.
Over the following days Joanna improved dramatically. All of her skin lesions crusted over and she started to look like a normal kid again. Then, just as we were preparing for discharge, the father approached our team and said, “I don’t want to take care of Joanna anymore. I want you to send her somewhere.”
One of our female staff members asked, “Why don’t you want to care for her anymore?”
In a matter-of-fact tone, he said, “I’ve got a boy to care for at home. She’s just a girl.”
Hmmm, that was a surprising answer.
After a few moment of reflection, I realized this was not the type of man I’d like to try and convince he should keep her. It is likely in her best interest to get out of that environment.
Just a few moments later we called a local orphanage. They immediately agreed to take the child and within hours, they called back and said, “We’ve got a family in Colorado that wants to adopt a patient with HIV! We’re golden.”