Although the character of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is changing into a chronic illness, it is estimated that by the end of this century, 80 000 children and adolescents in the United States will be orphaned by parental death caused by human immunodeficiency virus infection. Plans for these children need to be made to ensure not only a stable, consistent environment that provides love and nurturing, but also the medical and social interventions necessary to cope with the tragic loss. Pediatricians should become aware of local laws and community resources and initiate discussion early in the course of parental illness to facilitate planning for the future care and custody of the children. States need to adopt laws and regulations that provide flexible approaches to guardianship and placement of children orphaned by acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

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