A Question from Europe

September 23, 2010

In July 2009 my partner and I were blessed with a son. During predelivery testing my partner was diagnosed as HIV+. We did not want the (strongly) recommended cesarean with pre-delivery ARVs. We also did not want to give ARVs to our child after his birth. We very much wanted to breast feed our little one, too. We had a rather rough time with the doctors. Many rather unfriendly discussions. 

According to (our European country) law, it was not possible to force my partner to go through a cesarean nor to take the ARVs; however, it was very possible to force us to not nurse the child and to give him ARVs. Which is what was done. Had we not agreed to this our child would have been taken from us.  Actually, he was per court order rushed through just as the drug to initiate labor was administered to my partner. Our son was not actually taken from us and the court order was rescinded very soon after that, because we agreed to their stipulations. 

We gave our son the ARVs for 6 weeks as ordered and did not nurse as ordered. He registered as HIV negative on all tests. He will be due at the age of two for a final test. 

Now in July of this year we have been blessed with a daughter. This time we went through the normal prenatal program. The normal testing was done.  Unfortunately, that also includes an HIV test. Theoretically, it is totally voluntary, but no one is ever asked for permission. It is just done. My partner tested positive again. We went to a different clinic this time, remembering our unpleasant treatment at the other. Here, too, there were discussions, but not as intensive and not at all impolite. The head doctor tried to convince us of the error of our ways, but we remained by our wish not to have cesarean and for my partner not to take the ARVs. We told of our experience the year before and said that, although we do not want to, we will not nurse and will give our child the ARVs for the dictated six weeks and submit to the testing. Make no mistake about it, although this may appear to be voluntary on our part, it is not – it is an acknowledgement of where the power lies. We do not want our child taken from us. 

The six weeks have now passed; the tests which have been done up to now have been negative. Our daughter is scheduled to be tested again in November. 

We have now received a summons from the court.  In it we were reminded that at the birth of our son there had been “complications” in his medical treatment and we were told that they had been informed that there had again been “complications” in the medical treatment of our daughter. I was invited to the court after the birth of our son, but the tone of this summons is different. I don’t know what to expect. I imagine there will be some kind of pressure put on my partner or it will be made plain to us that our next child should be born by cesarean with accompanying prenatal ARVs, but I don’t really know. That is this month. 

My partner is Kenyan. Our first child (our daughter is our third) was born in Africa – a home birth. He was also breastfed for 6 months. She was given a visa to join me here when he was 5 months old.  After the birth of our second child, our second son, last year we were also required to have our first child tested. He tested negative. 

I would so very much like to have these people off my back. If there were any way, I would also like to have some punitive compensation for the stress they have caused us and being forced to give poisons to two of our children.

I have seen at your site that you have been having success attacking the validity of the HIV tests.  Indeed there are grave doubts about these tests to a thinking person – but not to the doctors, it seems. There are, however, no doubts about the toxicity of the drugs that we were forced to give our children – Retrovir and Epivir. 

Can you help me?

(Name and location redacted)

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ANSWER (by David Crowe and OMSJ)

I/we can’t give legal or medical advice but have quite a bit of practical experience in this area. 

First of all I am impressed with how clearly you have stated your predicament. This is important because you have to understand the issues first before you can determine your strategy. 

One thing you may want to think about is the psychology of mainstream AIDS practitioners (and this applies to many other areas of medicine as well).   Doctors are used to being in charge and can become quite retaliatory when challenged. Showing them that you know more than they do is actually quite counter-productive it just makes them more angry. 

What many people have done successfully is to create a charade. If you convince the doctors and nurses that the child is taking medication and the mother is formula feeding, that may be enough to satisfy them.  The parents then do what they want and fill their closet with unused medications.  Be careful how you dispose of these drugs – many are considered hazardous materials (which makes you wonder why doctors give them to babies).  You don’t want to be charged with illegal dumping hazardous materials.

If you are forced into a legal confrontation with the doctors or there is significant danger of this you should first get a lawyer and try to educate them on this issue. Most lawyers will start from a position of completely accepting mainstream viewpoints and will not understand your position. An uneducated lawyer, one who does not truly believe you are right, will not successfully fight for you.

OMSJ currently does not have the funds to provide legal assistance at this time; however, if you secure an attorney, we will be happy to provide information, medical and scientific support to him/her in the preparation of your case.

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