Scroll To Top

Mother Who Lost Custody Because Boyfriend Has HIV Gets Kids Back

Mother Who Lost Custody Because Boyfriend Has HIV Gets Kids Back


Proof of how widespread ignorance of HIV transmission is, the initial decision shocked HIV advocates.

A Wichita, Kan., woman will be able to see her two children once again after a judge ruled there was no risk of them being infected with HIV.  Donna Branom and her ex-husband have joint custody of their 8-year-old and 16-year-old, but Branom lost her custody rights when her ex-husband filed a complaint in court that the children were at risk because Branom's fiance is HIV-positive. 

"I was estatic that we finally got our babies back," Donna Branom told KWCH. "Cause that's what we wanted. It's not right for him to try to deny us. Cause we didn't do anything wrong except for love each other."

Branom failed to appear in court last month (she wrote down the wrong date by mistake and came to court the following day), therefore the court automatically granted the ex-husband's request that Branom's fiance, Henry Calderon, Jr., have no contact with the children and that visitations be at a state-run facility under supervision. Branom would also have to submit blood tests to prove she was not HIV-positive before having contact with her kids.

A court date was set for July 6 and Branom was not allowed to see her children for nearly three weeks. In court on Monday, her ex-husband's lawyer argued that HIV was still a risk to the children even if it was a small one.

Calderon's doctor and HIV expert Donna Sweet told reporters last month that Calderon himself had an extremely low viral load and was extremely unlikely to infect anyone, even a sexual partner, much less the children. Both experts testified about how HIV is transmitted to reinforce people living in household together do not face increased risk from someone with HIV.

"We knew that it was not a great risk of HIV but we felt that there was a risk," Charlie Harris, the ex-husand's attorney, said to KWCH. "But he did it for the kids. And he's satisfied that he had a fair hearing. And I guess we go from there."  

The judge's decision appeared to lean heavily on a letter from Sweet explaining that there were no known cases of contracting HIV through casual contact.

"In this case the court will find that there is no risk to the children for them to become HIV positive," said Judge Faith Maughn.


30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Katie Peoples