This study examined the rates and predictors of custody status for children of HIV-infected parents. The authors collected data from interviews of 538 parents with children 0-17 years old from a nationally representative sample of HIV-infected adults receiving health care in the United States. The study analyzed the extent that the parents had custody of their children during the study and, if they did not have custody during that period, who had custody rights instead. During the survey period, more than half of the children were not in the custody of their HIV-positive parent. The findings indicate that when the parents lost custody of their child, it was not a direct consequence of their HIV status. Instead, the parents lost custody – either temporarily or permanently – based on a history of injection-drug use, financial instability, and/or mental health status. The study also concluded that children whose parents lost custody were subject to increased emotional and behavioral problems, and that if there were no additional family members to raise the children, then the children would enter into a state or foster care program.
The Center for HIV Law and Policy challenges barriers to the rights and health of people affected by HIV through legal advocacy, high-impact policy initiatives, and creation of cross-issue partnerships, networks, and resources. We support movement building that amplifies the power of individuals and communities to mobilize for change that is rooted in racial, gender, and economic justice.