Adoption, Foster Care and Custody
Unless being HIV positive makes you too ill to care for a child, your status should not affect your ability to become a foster or adoptive parent. Because HIV is not transmitted through the type of household contacts involved in childcare, one’s HIV status is not relevant to one’s qualifications as a foster or adoptive parent. Lambda Legal helped change the regulations on HIV-positive foster parents in Nevada, and we are looking to reform the regulations in the very few other states that arguably still restrict the ability of an HIV-positive person to be a foster parent.
Your ex-spouse may try to use your HIV status against you in a dispute over custody, but your HIV-positive status alone should not affect a court’s custody decision. Because HIV is not transmitted through the type of household contacts involved in childcare, one’s HIV status is not relevant to that person’s ability to parent. If a person is having serious HIV-related health problems that interfere with the ability to care for a child, that could affect awarding custody to that person. However, that type of impairment should be considered in the same way as any other physical impairment, including with respect to its duration and actual effect on the ability to care for a child.
The person with whom custody of children is shared may indeed try to use your HIV status against you to limit your interactions with the children or your partner (the children’s parent). But your HIV-positive status should not affect the custody arrangement or your ability to interact with your partner or the children in any way.
Because HIV is not transmitted through the type of household contact involved in childcare, one’s status as an individual living with HIV is not relevant to a person’s ability to parent or to the safety of a child with whom the person has normal, everyday interactions in a household setting.