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Case arguing against a custody arrangement that is contingent on the children being blocked from seeing their HIV positive aunt


Keri Rowell was granted an extension of temporary custody of her three children as long as she kept her children from seeing her sister who has HIV. Her sister, Tanya Wilkins, had always played an active role in the children’s lives, but following the ruling, she was unable to have any physical contact with them. Lambda Legal filed a brief advising the court of medical information about the transmission of HIV. Jason Parham, an infectious disease specialist from Jackson, Mississippi, also testified that HIV is not transmitted through casual contact within the home and that there was no reason to keep the children away from their aunt. Within days, we won the reversal of the temporary custody restriction and the children were reunited with their aunt.


More than two decades of science has proved that HIV is not transmitted through casual contact in the home.

Lambda Legal’s Impact

This case is important specifically for families with a person who is living with HIV, as it reaffirms the fact that the families affected by HIV should not be torn apart by judges. It also is important for people with HIV, who regularly face ridiculous fears that they pose a threat to others, when science has dispelled such myths.