Will AIDS Destroy This Family?

Tia Emerson was four when she died of AIDS, reports CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick. Her mother Valerie says the way she died was worse than her death.

"She didn't eat," says Valerie. "She woke up at night screaming."

Her son Nikolas is HIV positive, and she vows he will not suffer the same way.

The reality, she says "is that he's got an illness that is terminal, he may not make it, that's why I want the quality of his life to be the best it can be for as long as it can be."

Valerie, who is HIV positive and passed the virus to her children, is refusing to give Nikolas doctor recommended treatments. The commonly used AZT and protease inhibitors can cause painful side effects.

More importantly, Valerie wants proof that the treatments could prolong her child's life.

The state of Maine is about to try. In September the Department of Human Services will take Valerie to court, and in an unprecedented case, try to force a parent to give her child AIDS medication.

"This is very rare for us to do anything like this at all," says Sandi Hodge, the Director of Child Welfare. "We wouldn't be bringing this matter before the court if we didn't believe that the medical people that we're talking to are saying to us the prognosis is pretty good, never a guarantee of course."

The court will have to weigh the value of treatment versus human suffering. But if the treatment prevails and Valerie refuses, the state could take Nikolas away, and Valerie could lose another child.

Reported by Diana Olick
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