Children who receive care from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) face unique challenges as they grow up.
Here are seven tips for raising children with and against HIV/AIDS.
By David McNew/The Washington PostIf your son or daughter is going to be an HIV-positive parent, you can do your best to prepare them for their own journey, said Susan E. Kennedy, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland who specializes in pediatric infectious disease and HIV/ AIDS.
For one thing, parents who have lived with HIV/AIDs can help them understand their child’s illness and what’s going on.
For another, you don’t have to hide your child’s HIV status from them.
If they’re worried about being stigmatized or their parents are in denial, you might try to reassure them by sharing that their condition is under control and that they’re receiving treatment.
If you have a child who’s been diagnosed with HIV, it might be helpful to discuss their treatment options with them, Kennedy said.
For example, you could say, “If you’re going to have this treatment, let’s talk about it.
You’re going through a difficult time right now and you don`t want to be a burden on your parents.”
If your child is not yet receiving treatment, you should ask him or her to try it.
But don’t push them too hard.
For instance, if you’re concerned that your child might be having problems because they don’t know their HIV status, tell them you don’ t know anything about HIV, Kennedy explained.
It’s fine if they don` t want to do it.
Instead, you need to let them know they have options.
For one thing you might want to discuss with them what they can do to help themselves and their families.
For a second, talk about your concerns with them.
For third, you have to be honest.
If you tell your child they need to keep an eye on themselves and not do anything to jeopardize their HIV, you risk making them feel that they have to do something to protect themselves, Kennedy warned.
Some HIV/ AIDs parents are concerned that if they try to get treatment, they’ll be stigmatized and their child will be put down.
But you don t have to worry about that.
Your child can be the person who makes them feel safe and secure, Kennedy suggested.
Your child needs to feel that he or she has a lot to offer, Kennedy added.
The best way to do that is to offer them a lot of love and support, Kennedy told the National Parents Organization conference in July.
“Don’t expect them to have all the answers,” she said.
“That`s a lot for them to deal with.
But they should know that if someone has the opportunity to provide that, they can be an asset to their parents.”
In some cases, you may have to help your child deal with their own illness.
Kennedy said that many parents of HIV-infected children are struggling with how to make it through a time of fear.
They may try to hide their HIV symptoms and feel that their child isn`t capable of taking care of themselves, she said, which can make them feel even more hopeless.
But even if they can’t hide their illness, Kennedy noted that HIV can be treated with medications.
“I`ve seen parents who are able to do a lot more with medications than they can with medications alone,” she explained.
You`re not required to tell your children that they are HIV positive, but they should be given the information that their HIV is serious and that their family is at risk, Kennedy emphasized.
So you can tell them that their diagnosis is serious, but that they can take care of it.
Kennedy said you might ask your child, “Is it possible for me to go to your doctor?”
If they say yes, then you can start talking about their symptoms and medications.
They might even want to go out with you, she suggested.
But if they say no, then the best thing you can hope for is that they will get tested.
If your child says yes to testing, then it`s safe to say, “Thank you, that was wonderful,” Kennedy said, adding that you can also try talking to a counselor who specializes on HIV/ ADIs to help with the diagnosis and treatment.
“It`s an important first step. “
They`re going to need a blood test and an HIV test,” Kennedy told The Associated Press.
“It`s an important first step.
It`s the only test they`ll need to go through.”
Kennedy suggested that parents should talk to their health care provider about HIV/ADIs when they have a new child and ask about the possibility of testing their child, since HIV/ACID infections are so common. “We`