Back then, Washington was still struggling to control the disease’s spread. Revolutionary drugs had reduced the risk of mother-to-child infections to less than 2 percent if the virus was discovered before delivery. And yet, dozens of babies continued to be born with HIV in the nation’s capital, where, at the time of JJ’s birth and diagnosis, epidemic rates compared to those in parts of West Africa.
But the disease didn’t frighten Lee. Her oldest son had contracted HIV as an adult, and an AIDS-related illness had killed her ex-husband, whom she cared for as his body failed.
Yes, she told the agency. I’ll take the infant.
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