Medication giving HIV-positive kids chance at life

June 27, 2011 5:00:17 PM PDT
Monday is "HIV Testing Day" and there's more reason than ever to find out early if you have HIV because the medicines work, especially for pregnant women and children.

Levi Pickett is 16 and he's healthy in spite of the fact he's been HIV-positive since he was born.

"I'm not worrying about dying anytime soon. I just feel healthy kinda like a normal teenage boy," he said.

Surviving to be a normal boy was a dream for Sandi Pickett when her family adopted Levi.

"What am I in for? I'm adopting a little baby that may not live very long," Sandi said.

Most children born with HIV back then died. But they took Levi to Baylor's Dr. Mark Kline, who helped save his life.

"He's the reason we had the courage to take Levi in when he was a baby and he was the reason we actually kept Levi," Sandi said.

"I thank God every night that I was adopted by such a great family," Levi said.

Dr. Kline put Levi on the strong antiretroviral medicines, which were new at the time, and they worked.

"The immune system is able to function normally, the organs are able to function normally and to all outward appearances are entirely healthy," Dr. Kline said.

Some 300 Houston children like Levi are doing well on the medicine. Many are getting married and having their own children.

"The babies are uninfected with HIV. The key is for the mother to take the medication and keep the infection under control during the pregnancy," Dr. Kline said.

A pill a day has been turning a death sentence into a chronic condition, and it happened in the lifespan of 16-year-old Levi.

Load Comments