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HIV Positive Parents: 10 Tips to Help Raise your Child

HIV Positive Parents: 10 Tips to Help Raise your Child

Being HIV positive is not a piece of easy news to break to your family or friends. The condition comes with its own set of preconceived notions, and hence can make the conversation tougher than you think. In addition, being a parent with HIV is a difficult situation to be in. Especially if you are not open enough about your relationships with your children. In this article, we throw light on how as HIV positive parents you can talk to your children, make them a part of your journey, and encourage healthy conversation about sex.

What does it mean being a parent with HIV?

HIV is short for human immunodeficiency virus. This is a sexually transmitted disease that attacks your immune cells, leaving you defenseless to infections or other illnesses. If left untreated, it can progress to the last stage, AIDS. Which is potentially fatal, depending on whether you choose to treat it or not.

Since HIV is a disease that people know about, breaking the news to your near ones can be tricky. The stigma and discrimination that surrounds HIV or AIDS has a long list to counter. It is, therefore, important to first accept the condition you’re in. Being an HIV positive parent can be a harrowing state to be in, and to make your children understand you need the confidence to explain the situation to them.

Tips that can help HIV positive parents

Here are 10 tips for HIV positive parents that can help them, especially if they are raising children. These basics can make you progress from being underconfident about your HIV status to treating it the right way.

Initiate a conversation about sex

The first step to talking about your HIV status with your kids is to initiate a conversation about sex. In a country like ours, sex is a taboo in itself. Therefore, you need to normalise the emotion created around it. This will also help you become closer to your children, who are in their growing stages and exposed to sex through social media and peers.

You can begin by talking about what sex is, your personal experience with it, and so forth. Even though it seems like a difficult condition to be in, this will only make your children understand your HIV status better. You can also talk to their school counsellor about how to initiate this topic with them.

Educate about healthy sex practices

With the ardent exposure of the virtual world filled with movies and visuals of sex, it only makes sense to inculcate healthy sex habits in your children. You can talk to them about contraceptives, condoms, birth control pills, etc. to educate them about healthy sexual practices. Understand that encouraging such conversation will also help them in the future.

There are various podcasts and videos that talk about preventive measures and healthy sexual practices that can give you points to ponder upon. In addition, you can also discuss how sexually transmitted diseases can affect their health.

Understand how you can explain HIV to your kids

For this, you will need to do complete homework on HIV. Your children will come up with questions on what the condition is, how does it happen, how does it affect you, etc. You need to be ready with the answers. The more equipped you are with these answers, the more confident you will be to make them understand the situation.

You do not necessarily need to talk about how you got HIV, but rather how anybody with any condition can get it if they have unprotected sex. You can also discuss how babies can get HIV from their mothers and how people can get this virus through exposure to blood products and bodily fluids such as needle contamination and drug injections.

Explain what HIV is

Studies suggest when children know about a situation and understand it, they process it better. Therefore, explaining HIV to them is of uttermost importance at this time. Talk to them about condoms, needle safety, and pregnancy.

You can also discuss the scientific definition of HIV and show them studies or videos that explain what HIV is, its causes, symptoms, and how they can prevent themselves as well. The important aspect is to normalise the conversation around HIV in your house.

Let other people know that you are HIV positive parents

Once you have told your children, start letting your other family members, friends, and acquaintances know. HIV positive parents should do this by, whenever possible, taking their children along. This will establish a healthy contact between them and their child or children. When they see your hesitation about sharing your HIV status, they can motivate you.

This practice will also instill in your children that there is nothing wrong with having HIV, as long as you get treated. Indirectly, this will increase their confidence in you and themselves.

Debunk myths about HIV

There are many myths, stigma and discrimination around HIV. HIV positive parents should aim to debunk them in front of their children. The first one, to begin with, can be that HIV does not spread by casual contact.

Debunking HIV or AIDS-related myths will also help them understand your condition better.

Go through your reports, treatment plan with them

This step is necessary for HIV positive parents. This is because once you start sharing your treatment plans and reports with them, you are also including them in your journey. This way, they won’t feel neglected and you will get the much needed mental support at a time like this.

Visit your doctor with kids

Going to the doctor’s clinic with your kids during a routine checkup can make them feel more at ease with your condition. Your doctor can also explain how he or she is treating you, what medicines you’re currently taking, how your treatment will progress, and how your children are also responsible for your well-being.

Tell them about other STIs and how to protect themselves

HIV positive parents should also talk about other STIs like gonorrhoea or syphilis. This is a good time to educate and enhance their knowledge about sex and indulging in healthy sexual practices.

Be transparent at every step, especially if you are HIV positive parents

Being transparent at every step can be of a three-fold advantage to HIV positive parents:

Their children will come closer to them. This will help them battle HIV better.
Their children will feel they are responsible for their parent’s treatment plan and participate more.
Children will also understand the importance of safe sex.

The above-mentioned tips can only be useful if you first accept that you have HIV and that it is a completely treatable disease. HIV positive parents can also get in touch with a therapist to handle this conversation with their children.

Learn more about HIV and AIDS, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Fears about HIV Transmission in Families with an HIV-Infected Parent: A Qualitative Analysis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549785// Accessed October 6, 2020

HIV and AIDS (for Parents) https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/hiv.html

Accessed March 30, 2021

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Jun 22
Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS