Posted on June 30, 2015
Dear Judge Maughn,
My name is Rachel Moats and recently I came across a story ( HIV status causes child custody dispute ) about Donna Branom & Henry Calderon that left me terrified and heartbroken. You see, I myself have a beautiful daughter and I am HIV Positive. I was diagnosed in March of 2013, I had contracted the virus from my best friend. We had unprotected sex and he was unaware of his status. (I tell you this only because I'm worried that you may have a preconceived notion that people with HIV must have done something terrible to become infected.) That is not the case.
Learning to live with the virus and accepting myself with the virus is a very long soul searching process. I liken it to the grieving process. Only it's your old life you're grieving and now you must learn how to accept your new life with HIV. I have accepted who I am and my new life that has came along with the diagnosis. I run my website wearehiv.org along with a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and I am a blogger at Poz.com. I use these platforms to spread knowledge about HIV and also to help end the stigma associated with the virus. I am a member of the San Diego HIV Planning Council and also the SCAT Rep for PWN-USA, San Diego chapter. I am the Business Development Manager for an HIV Specialty Pharmacy and I spend my days educating people on the risks of HIV while encouraging them to stay in treatment and convincing others to simply get tested. I work hard everyday to educate people about the risks of HIV and to end the stigma that is so deeply connected with the virus. But most importantly I am a Mom.
When I first read Henry's story it was posted in one of my HIV Groups on Facebook. Honestly, I took it with a grain of salt as you cannot believe everything you read on the Internet. Plus I wanted to make sure he wasn't some type of pedophile with skeletons in his closet.
After reading the story that was done by Jade DeGood via KWCH-TV, I am confident that Henry Calderon is a decent man who just happens to be living with HIV. What I am not confident about is the judicial system in which children would be removed from their mother because her fiancé is HIV Positive. There is virtually no risk of the children contracting the virus. He would literally have to stop taking his medication and have his viral load returned to detectable status, then he would need to have sex with the children or share intravenous needles with them. This does not seem like a likely scenario considering the whole world knows he is HIV Positive and he would be taken to jail (if he made it that far).
I urge you to educate yourself and others. I myself grew up in a small town in Kansas and couldn't imagine the stigma and fear I would have to face if I were living there now. By removing the children from their loving home it will only perpetuate the stigma that I work so hard to get rid of. Please take a few minutes and do some research. The CDC has a plethora of information that you may find interesting and informative.
Also, no one is immune to contracting the virus. What if you take the children from their mother and God forbid their father ends up HIV Positive? Where will the children go then? Foster homes? Lastly, what if one of your children contracted the virus and their kids were taken away? How would you feel then? I hope you do the right thing and drop this case like a hot potato. It's the right thing to do. I wish you the best of luck your honor.
If you would like to show your support to Henry & Donna please click here and sign the petition to help them get their kids back!
Reproduced with permission from Rachel Moatsl
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