I am Living With HIV, Do I Tell My Children?

I am Living With HIV, Do I Tell My Children?

Many times, women who are living with HIV and are the head of the family think of everything before talking about their diagnosis with their daughters or sons who do not have the virus. However, a recent study found that those women who were open about their status had better communication and improved their relationship with their young ones.

The research, published in the Child Development Journal, was carried out in California and Georgia in the United States. The results suggest that revealing the HIV diagnosis improves open communication and strengthens the bonds between mothers, sons, and daughters. 58% of the participants were African American and 35% Latino, and the study was conducted in English and Spanish.

Among the reasons for mothers to remain silent about their health status is the fact that they think children are too young to understand the situation and that they themselves will not be able to answer their children’s questions. Youngsters might have negative reactions towards them, or that they might reveal the news to other people.

Better Relationship With Your Children And With HIV

The study involved women with HIV caring for children who did not have the virus. For the purposes of the investigation, all women were identified as “mothers”, although not all of them had this biological relationship with the minors, they were their main caregivers (for example, their grandmother).

Mothers who had disclosed their HIV diagnosis, after a nine-month follow-up, were more likely to report that their communication and relationship with their children had improved in the past six months, compared with women who had not disclosed their diagnosis. 

In this research, almost all participating mothers felt that the moment of revelation turned out well after all and some felt relief. Study leader Dr. Nada Goodrum observed the benefits of disclosing HIV status: mainly, mothers feel less stressed and children have a better perception of their relationship with their mothers, since they feel that they trust them.

If you are in a similar situation and do not know how to approach it, you can talk to your specialist doctor or a self-support group in your community. Surely there will be someone who can guide you on the best way to talk to your children about your HIV diagnosis and thus release that heavy burden that secrets often have.

At AHF Latam & Caribbean we have free support and counseling groups in most of our centers and allied centers. Visit our Services section and write to us via WhatsApp to learn more.