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Discussing your status with your teenager.
May 25, 2015

I have a child that is not quite a teen yet and she knows what HIV is. I have been going through a lot of health issues and has asked out of curiosity. When is a good time and a good way to have this discussion with your child?

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting your important question.

WebMD has an excellent article on this subject. I agree with their recommendations, especially that it's important to have supportive discussions around sexual health and HIV before children become sexually active. From the article: (1) Talking with children about HIV and AIDS increases the chances of delaying sex and protects against risky behavior. (2) Talking about HIV and AIDS decreases the chances of unprotected sex. If the use of condoms is discussed before teens have sex, they are three times more likely to use condoms later on.

AIDSMap also has an excellent resource.

As this sometimes difficult discussion pertains to her mother and your status, this becomes all the more important, and an opportunity to have a discussion in the loving context of family. I'd suggest having the discussion oriented around your health, to (assuming your in care and on treatment) reassure her that HIV won't affect your long-term health, perhaps even to discuss issues of stigma (addressing things that she may have heard from others), or her concerns about transmission.

Hope that helps, BY

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