Naming HIV to children: it’s time to talk

Katie Rowson
Senior Lecturer, University of Central Lancashire and CHIVA Health Lead

This article is a review of the literature, a presentation of a UK audit, and future proposals. Informing a child, they are HIV positive remains a challenge for the family, carers and healthcare professionals. The appropriate time to talk to children about their HIV status has changed along with the timeline of medication development. Today, it is recognised that children should be given ageappropriate information from a young age [1]. There are many reasons why children are not told their HIV diagnosis at an earlier age; this is not comparable to, or reflective of, other chronic health conditions. Despite medical advances, psychosocial influences present additional challenges that are yet to be addressed. Stigma and discrimination play a large role in talking about HIV in society. Sharing, or not sharing, an HIV diagnosis can cause social isolation, victimisation and prejudice at a life-changing level [2]. When a child is HIV positive, HIV is often already a family health issue affecting at least one other person within the family unit [3]. Children can relate HIV to life experiences of ill health or bereavement, which makes learning about their diagnosis more complex. Read more…