How do parents manage the decision to disclose their children's HIV status?

Parents raising HIV positive children have the tough task of how to disclose the status to the children through an educational approach.

702's Azania Mosaka spoke to Lebo Madisha, from the National Department of Health, about how to manage the issue.

Madisha emphasised the importance of engaging the issue with the assistance of a health professional.

Listen to the interview below:

Pay attention to the age of the child because you need to give information that is age-appropriate at that particular time. We have different levels of HIV disclosure.

Lebo Madisa, National Department of Health

Madisha explained the three levels of disclosure in starting the conversation about the child's status.

  • Non-disclosure: the child is unaware of their illness and the effect it has on their body at approximately three-years of age. The focus is on ensuring the child adheres to treatment.
  • Partial disclosure: parents can talk to the child about the illness without mentioning 'HIV', with children between the ages of 3 and 9.
  • Full disclosure: parents talk about their treatment and the benefits of the treatment. The conversation encapsulates education on teenage pregnancy, family planning and preventative methods, with adolescents.

Madisha said anger from children who are HIV positive usually emanates from lack of education through the years.

The anger comes in cases where they have a lot of questions that were never answered...They withdraw from the treatment, they become sick.

Lebo Madisha, National

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