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How do I tell my kids I have HIV?

How do I tell my kids I have HIV?


Kids can handle more than you think. Just make sure you know what you’re doing before you sit down to chat.

Many parents worry that telling their children about their positive status might place an undue burden on the children. Mental health professionals say the decision about whether to tell your kids depends on many factors, including how perceptive they are (have they asked about your medicines?), how discreet you need to be (asking kids to keep a secret can create a heavy burden), and how strong you can be for them (some kids will be angry, overly clingy, or terrified you’re dying).

Kids can understand and assimilate information; you just need to have it ready for them. So, for most parents, telling their children will be the right choice. Before you do, though, make sure you are prepared for their questions about HIV. Your kids have been perfecting the “why” questions since they were 2 years old, and you don’t want to be in a situation where you don’t know the answer.
Living With HIV: A Patient’s Guide author Mark Cichocki, a nurse educator at the University of Michigan’s HIV/AIDS Treatment Program, recommends selecting a quiet place for the conversation, being honest, trusting your kids to handle the news, and letting them express their emotions fully. Kids can experience a range of feelings, including guilt, fear, rage, and rejection — all normal reactions.

There are support groups and advocates for your kids to lean on in the coming-out process. And it is a process, so don’t expect it to be done the moment you share your status. That’s just the beginning. A good second step: After the crying and talking is done, take them out for ice cream. Then resume your normal activities so they see this is just another situation your family will tackle together.

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