Health

Family Fights to Keep HIV-Positive Baby Off Antiviral Drugs

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The parents of a baby boy with HIV are fighting with county officials to keep the child off his medications as they fear the drugs will kill him.

Rico Nagel Martinez was born to John Martinez and Lindsay Nagel on December 19, 2012. Nagel was HIV positive when she was born in Romania, and did not receive treatment as a baby because her parents believed the medication was making her ill.

Despite their decision, Nagel grew up relatively healthy, though she still tested positive for the disease. Unfortunately, at age 22, the HIV is progressing into AIDS. 

A judge is to decide this week whether Rico's parents will keep him or if he should be in county custody so they can supervise his medical treatments.

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While they think the drugs are harmful to the baby, they said they will continue administering them because they don't want to lose him.

"Right now, we're following the plan," Rico's grandmother Cheryl Nagel said. "But we're legally going to try to get him off the medications if we can. Because we know they'll kill him eventually."

John, Rico's father, said, "We know we're not doctors. We wouldn't just stop giving him the drugs, we're not willing to risk that. But we were in search of someone who would say okay, Rico doesn't need to be on these drugs."

Cheryl Nagel said they want to keep her grandson with them because it makes Lindsay happy to have him home.

"She wants to raise him herself," she said.

When Rico was born, he tested positive for HIV. His parents knew that he would contract the disease because Lindsay was not on medication to lower the chances of passing it onto him.

Two weeks after Rico was born, he was put on medication, but in January his parents missed an appointment about his care. They said they did not go because they found out, while driving to the appointment, that the doctor was not a pediatrician.

After missing the appointment, the parents were reported to child protection services because he was being "medically neglected." He was placed in a hospital and was under the supervision of the county for nearly two months.

On March 8, Rico was returned to his parents until the hearing concludes.

At the intial hearing, a Mayo Clinic expert in pediatric infectious disease, Dr. Charles Huskins, said that Rico needs the medication so that he will "grow and thrive and develop," and that if he does not receive it, he could develop AIDS.

Sources: Daily Mail, Star Tribune