In this study of a small group of children followed by an HIV clinic at an unidentified institution, the author describes in detail her experience with the children, their caregivers--sometimes biological family members, sometimes foster providers--and the medical staff responsible for the management of their viral infection. The writer, a humanities professor at a medical school, acknowledges the privilege she felt at having been in a position to develop a close personal contact over several years with the people about whom she writes.

The frame of the study is case-oriented. Each child is described and the medical and social histories of a total of nine are outlined and then fleshed out with personal interviews and home visits made by the writer. In addition to the histories, Hawkins includes a glossary of contemporary medical terms and common acronyms relevant to HIV, a bibliography, and a list of resources for those interested in looking further into this infection as it presents in children.


The depth of study of the individual children and members of their biological or surrogate families provides a new level of insight into the social, cultural, economic and emotional parameters of the presentation of HIV acquired by infants born to infected mothers. It is not surprising that the youngsters presented here are often neglected and/or abandoned by their biological parents.

They tend to have long and convoluted experiences with a variety of foster situations and are often deeply scared not only by the agony of the disease and its treatment, but by the rejection that seems to follow them everywhere. Hawkins’s access to deeply personal stories about these situations from those who are most intimately involved provides a dimension to these stories--and a face to the often faceless sufferers from HIV.


W. W. Norton

Place Published

New York



Page Count