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HIV and adoption - myths debunked

Recent reporting about HIV-positive children and adoption do a disservice to those seeking the facts about overseas adoption challenges. One report suggested Australians seeking to adopt children from overseas who are HIV-positive would face long waiting periods as a result of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's (DIAC) health waiver process. It also suggested such a child would be rejected on the basis of their health status. Neither of these suggestions is true.

Let's address the first myth: "It takes up to a year to apply for a health waiver"

Where a health waiver is available it does not need to be applied for, but is mandatorily considered by the visa processing officer. This consideration can only occur after an applicant has met all other criteria for the visa except health, so it is considered at the end of the visa process. To consider a health waiver, we ask for information about their or their family’s ability to mitigate any potential costs or care, and for supporting information about any compelling or compassionate circumstances. Generally the health waiver process itself is quite swift - usually only a matter of days or weeks from the time all of the required information is received.

And the second myth: "the automatic ban on HIV- positive migrants"

There is no 'automatic ban' for HIV-positive applicants. Unless you have a condition which can be considered a public health threat, such as active TB, which by law prevents a visa grant, all applicants are considered under the same rules regardless of the nature of their condition. As a permanent visa applicant, if a medical condition is assessed as likely to cost more than $21 000, you are likely to fail to meet the health requirement, no matter what your condition may be.

There are no regulations preventing HIV-positive children being granted a visa. For parents resident in Australia who are interested in adopting an HIV-positive child, this should be discussed with the adoption authority in their state/territory (which is a requirement for all adoptions).

In fact, in the last two years our records indicate:

•all HIV positive adoption visa applicants have had a health waiver exercised and subsequent visa grant, and
•almost all adoption visa applicants who failed to meet health had a health waiver exercised regardless of the condition.