December 1 is also World AIDS Day. A few of us went down to our local city mall park to mark the occasion, where some other NGOs were also gathering. There we ran into one of our original kids from the orphanage and one of our foster moms. It was so encouraging to see our friends and many others taking a moment to remember this important day. Prior to the revolution in 1989, poor health practices and a government reluctant to acknowledge the disease prompted HIV/AIDS cases to skyrocket - particularly among orphans. In fact, by the year 2000, 60% of Europe’s pediatric HIV/AIDS cases were registered in Romania, mostly in infants living in public institutions. The majority of those cases were located in Constanta, where the House of New Life is located.
Today in Romania, the most primitive health practices have been discontinued and antiretroviral medications are more accessible for children and young adults. The shame and stigma around the disease has also diminished, although not completely. The generation of children who were infected as infants are survivors today.