HIV 101: How Do I Tell My Kids I Have HIV?

Sharing your HIV-positive status

HIV 101: How Do I Tell My Kids I Have HIV?

  • Your HIV status is personal information. It's up to you to decide if you want to tell other people and who you choose to tell.
  • Talking to someone you trust about your HIV status can help you process your thoughts and emotions.
  • If revealing your status to family and friends feels hard, you may find talking to a counsellor or peer support group helpful.

For many people living with HIV, particularly when they have just been diagnosed, whether and how to share their status with other people can be a big concern.

Sharing the news of your status (sometimes called disclosure) with your partner, a close friend or family member and talking about your feelings can be really helpful, and your friends and family may be a good source of support. However, it is up to you to decide who you tell and you should never feel pressured into doing this.

Unfortunately, in many communities, there is stigma attached to HIV, and it may be that some of the people you know do not really understand what it means to be living with HIV. They may not understand how it is passed on, be afraid, or judgmental. This means you may get some negative reactions.

Many people find it helpful to talk to a healthcare professional, or peer support group, before sharing their status with loved ones.

Who should I tell?

It’s up to you to decide who you tell. You may decide you want to be completely open about your HIV status, or you may decide to only tell a small number of people close to you – it’s your choice.

You might find it helpful to tell some people, especially those you trust, and you know care for you. You could start with a close friend or family member. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed or have been living with HIV for a while, talking about your status can help you get the emotional and practical support you need.

Sharing your HIV status should always be your decision. You should never feel pressured into it. Ultimately, your HIV status is your private information and it is down to you to choose whether to share your status and with who.

My parents have been nothing less than supportive and helpful through this entire time. They bought a ton of books about HIV and informed themselves as much as they possibly could about prevention and nutrition and how to help physically and emotionally. I am forever grateful to have their unwavering support and unconditional love.

— Jordan

Some people find it easy to tell others that they have HIV while others may find it very difficult and emotional. You may feel fearful, embarrassed, excited or relieved. Whatever you feel is OK. Remember that you don’t have anything to apologise for, simply because you are living with HIV.

Many people find that it gets easier once they begin to tell others, especially if the people they tell are able to offer support.

However, you cannot be sure how each person will react to your news and what impact it might have on you.

If you have only recently found out you are living with HIV, it might be a good idea to take time to understand your HIV status and to get used to how you feel before you tell many people.

Besides the doctor, my husband is the only one who knows my status. I'm afraid to tell anyone else because I fear them seeing me different.

— Mia

What reactions will I get?

It can be helpful to think about what kind of reaction you might expect from someone you are considering telling. Do you think they will be calm and supportive? Are they ly to get upset and worried for you? Is there a chance they could be angry, or even violent?

Talking to a healthcare professional, or a support group or organisation, can help you to think about the kind of reaction you are expecting and how you might handle it. In some situations, it might be possible for someone to be with you when you share your status.

While it is important to consider the negative reactions that some people sadly do experience, it’s also important to remember that many people have good experiences of sharing their HIV status.

Being able to be open and honest with someone about your HIV status and your feelings can be really powerful. It can make you feel closer to the person, and they may offer you emotional and practical support when you need it.

At first, I didn't want my parents and friends to know what was going on with me. I isolated myself from all my friends and family. I finally found the best opportunity for me to disclose my HIV status to my sister.

I am thankful because my sister was able to understand me and I asked her to educate my mom about HIV. After disclosing my status I don't have any burden at all.

I don't care if everyone around the world knows that I am living with HIV.

— Zion

How do I tell people?

How, when and where you tell someone about your HIV status is completely up to you. It can be helpful to think a few things through:

  • What are you going to say?
  • What questions might the person ask you? How would you answer these?
  • Is there anything you are expecting from that person after you tell them?
  • Do you feel able to cope with a bad reaction from this person?

It’s also worth planning the practicalities of where and when would be best to do it. Think about a time and place where you can both be relaxed and feel safe. You’ll want to have plenty of time together, so you can talk about it uninterrupted.

It can help to have some information on hand to share with them. They may not know about how HIV is passed on, or about HIV treatment. They may assume that you don’t have long to live, or that you won’t be able to have relationships or have a family. If you can help them to understand the facts about HIV, they are less ly to react negatively.

It’s important to remember that having HIV is nothing to be ashamed of. Hopefully whoever you decide to share your status with will see that and support you, though you may need to give some people time to process the information.

If you tell someone your HIV status there is a chance that they will share this information with others without your permission. If confidentiality is important to you it is a good idea to make this clear to them when you share your status. You should also think carefully about whether you can trust this person to respect your confidentiality. 

Sharing your HIV positive status with a partner

Because HIV can be passed on during sex, telling someone who is a current or previous sexual partner can be particularly difficult and emotional. But the process of deciding how and when to tell a partner involves a lot of the same thinking as telling a friend.

Before you talk to your partner it can help to have some information on hand to share with them. If you can help them to understand the facts about HIV, and reassure them, they are less ly to react negatively.

Many people worry that sharing their HIV status will lead to rejection – that the person they tell may react badly and that this may damage their relationship.

While you can’t control how others react, remember, that negative reactions are normally poor knowledge of HIV. Giving someone the correct information on how HIV is passed on and how it can be prevented will help to reassure them and deal with some of the common fears and myths around HIV.

Communicating with your partner about your HIV status can be a very positive step in a relationship and means you can also discuss how to keep both of you healthy. Using PrEP, condoms and taking your HIV treatment correctly are all ways which will protect your sexual partner from HIV.

How do I talk to my children about HIV?

It can be difficult to decide how much information to give children about HIV. Every child is different, and every parent is different, so there isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ way to tell your child that they, and/or you have HIV.

Often, telling a child that they have HIV is done over time, giving them information at the level they can understand, depending on their age. Children will often have questions about why they are taking treatment, or why they have to see their doctor, and this can present an opportunity to give information and offer reassurance.

Talking to other parents and a healthcare professional at your child’s clinic can help you think about what you might to do and when.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/lolostock
 

Источник: https://www.avert.org/living-with-hiv/sharing-diagnosis

Congenital HIV Symptoms & Causes

HIV 101: How Do I Tell My Kids I Have HIV?

At Boston Children’s Hospital, we understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with congenital HIV, such as:

  • What exactly is it?
  • How did he get it?
  • What are potential complications in my child’s case?
  • What are the treatments?
  • Are there any possible side effects from treatment?
  • How will it affect my child long term?

We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions here, and when you meet with our experts, we can explain your child’s condition and treatment options fully.

Background

Women with HIV can infect their babies while they’re pregnant or during delivery. HIV can also be passed from mother to baby through breast milk.

  • However, if mothers receive treatment for HIV during their pregnancy, the risk of passing the virus to their babies can be significantly reduced.

Causes

What causes congenital AIDS/HIV?

Congenital HIV is the result of the virus spreading to babies born to, or breastfed by mothers infected with the virus; however, not every child born to an HIV-infected mother will acquire the virus.

  • Due to advances in anti-retroviral drugs and research breakthroughs by centers the Children's Hospital AIDS Program (CHAP), the transmission rate from mother to child is currently 1 percent.

Is congenital AIDS/HIV common?

Between 6,000 and 7,000 children are born to HIV-infected mothers each year in the United States.

Symptoms

Even though there are no symptoms of HIV, the virus is actively infecting and killing cells of the immune system. As the immune system deteriorates, complications begin to develop. Symptoms vary child-to-child depending on age, but may include:

  • lymph nodes that remain enlarged for more than three months
  • lack of energy
  • weight loss
  • frequent and long-lasting fevers and sweats
  • persistent or frequent yeast infections (oral or vaginal)
  • persistent skin rashes or flaky skin
  • pelvic inflammatory disease that does not respond to treatment
  • short-term memory loss
  • frequent and severe herpes infections that cause mouth, genital, or anal sores or a painful nerve disease known as shingles.
  • delayed physical and developmental growth as evidenced by poor weight gain and bone growth
  • swollen abdomen (due to swelling of the liver and spleen)
  • intermittent diarrhea (diarrhea that may come and go)
  • oral thrush (a fungal infection in the mouth that is characterized by white patches on the cheeks and tongue)
  • constant or recurring ear infections
  • swelling of the lung tissue
  • hepatitis
  • chickenpox that may include the digestive track
  • two serious bacterial infections in two years (such as meningitis and pneumonia)
  • yeast infections in the lungs or digestive track
  • kidney disease
  • tumors or malignant lesions

Long-term outlook

While there is no cure for HIV and AIDS, advances in medicine allow infants infected with HIV to live longer than ever before.

For more information about how congenital HIV is treated, as well as how the risk of passing the infection to your baby can be reduced, see the Treatment and Care tab.

Questions to ask your doctor

If you have been infected with HIV or are at risk of infection, you probably have some questions about the condition and how it can affect your baby.

You may find it helpful to jot down questions as they arise—that way, when you talk to your doctor, you can be sure that all of your concerns are addressed.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Should I get tested for HIV?
  • What can I do to prevent infection?
  • I’m infected. Is there any way to prevent passing it on to my baby?
  • What steps can we take if my baby does get infected?
  • What’s the long-term outlook for a baby with HIV?

Prevention

Pregnant mothers can reduce the chances of their child getting AIDS/HIV by taking anti-retroviral drugs before giving birth and opting for a Cesarean section.

Vaccines

Parents often ask if children who have HIV can receive the regular childhood vaccinations. You should always discuss your child's medical options with your doctor, but the following vaccinations are typically safe to give to child with HIV:

FAQ

Q: What is HIV?

A: HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus which, when untreated, becomes AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The virus attacks the body's immune system, especially white blood cells called CD-4 cells (also called «T-cells»).

Q: Why is HIV a problem?

A: HIV can be passed from a mother to her child during pregnancy or delivery as well as through breast milk.

  • Due to advances in anti-retroviral drugs and research breakthroughs by centers the Children's Hospital AIDS Program (CHAP), the transmission rate from mother to child is currently 1 percent.
    • If the mother is not treated, HIV has a much greater chance of infecting the baby.

Q: Is there any way to prevent infection?

A: Pregnant mothers can reduce the chances of their child getting AIDS/HIV by taking anti-retroviral drugs before giving birth and opting for a Cesarean section.

If you’re pregnant and think you may have been exposed to the virus, ask your doctor to screen you for HIV as soon as possible.  

Q: How is HIV diagnosed?

A: An HIV-infected child is usually diagnosed with AIDS when his or her immune system becomes severely damaged or other types of infections occur. To determine whether your child has HIV, your doctor will perform different blood tests.

  • Early HIV infection must be detected by testing your child's blood for the presence of antibodies (disease-fighting proteins) to HIV. These HIV antibodies generally do not reach levels high enough to detect by standard blood tests until one to three months following infection, and may take as long as six months.
  • When a person is highly ly to be infected with HIV, but antibody tests are negative, a test for the presence of HIV itself in the blood is used. Repeat antibody testing at a later date, when antibodies to HIV are more ly to have developed, is often recommended.
  • An infant born to an HIV-infected mother may not test positive at birth and it may be necessary for the infant to undergo multiple blood tests at different intervals during her first six months of life.

Q: What symptoms might my baby have?

A: Babies born with HIV experience no immediate symptoms.

  • However, if you have HIV, it’s important to have your baby checked for signs of the virus several times during her first six months.

Even though there are no symptoms, the virus is actively infecting and killing cells of the immune system. As the immune system deteriorates, complications begin to develop. Symptoms vary child-to-child depending on age, but may include:

  • lymph nodes that remain enlarged for more than three months
  • lack of energy
  • weight loss
  • frequent and long-lasting fevers and sweats
  • persistent or frequent yeast infections (oral or vaginal)
  • persistent skin rashes or flaky skin
  • pelvic inflammatory disease that does not respond to treatment
  • short-term memory loss
  • frequent and severe herpes infections that cause mouth, genital, or anal sores or a painful nerve disease known as shingles.
  • delayed physical and developmental growth as evidenced by poor weight gain and bone growth
  • swollen abdomen (due to swelling of the liver and spleen)
  • intermittent diarrhea (diarrhea that may come and go)
  • oral thrush (a fungal infection in the mouth that is characterized by white patches on the cheeks and tongue)
  • constant or recurring ear infections
  • swelling of the lung tissue
  • hepatitis
  • chickenpox that may include the digestive track
  • two serious bacterial infections in two years (such as meningitis and pneumonia)
  • yeast infections in the lungs or digestive track
  • kidney disease
  • tumors or malignant lesions

Q: What are our treatment options?

A: The Children's Hospital AIDS Program (CHAP) treats congenital HIV in infants.

As with many other conditions, early detection of HIV offers more options for treatment. Today, there are medical treatments that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system, but currently, there is no cure for the disease. However, there are other treatments that can prevent or cure the conditions associated with HIV.

Traditional treatments for AIDS/HIV in pregnant women:

  • Anti-retroviral drug therapy may be given to a pregnant woman, and has proven to greatly reduce the chance of an infant developing HIV.
  • A Cesarean section may be recommended to reduce infant transmission from the birth canal.
  • In the United States, where other feeding options are available, an infected mother should be discouraged from breastfeeding her infant.

Q: What is my child’s long-term outlook?

A:While there is no cure for HIV and AIDS, advances in medicine allow infants infected with HIV to live longer than ever before.

For more information about how congenital HIV is treated, as well as how the risk of passing the infection to your baby can be reduced, see the Treatment and Care tab.

Q: What makes Children’s Hospital Boston different?

A: Our physicians are expert, compassionate and committed to focusing on the whole child, not just his condition—that’s one reason we’re frequently ranked as a top pediatric hospital in the United States.

The Children's Hospital AIDS Program (CHAP) is New England's largest clinic of its type.

During the past two decades, our multidisciplinary team has helped CHAP become an international leader in HIV and AIDS care and clinical research.

Research pioneered by our team and others, as well as the success of anti-viral drugs, has transformed the disease from a death sentence to a manageable condition.

And at Children’s, we consider you and your child integral parts of the care team and not simply recipients of care. You and your care team will work together to customize a plan of care for your child.

Источник: https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/c/congenital-hiv/symptoms-and-causes

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