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How do you tell a child there +?
Aug 19, 2006

i found out my mother was positive in 2002. She told me my brother was negative(a Lie). In 2003 my mom died i then found out my brother is positive at 7yrs.old he was diagnosed with AIDS. he was put on meds immediately. Its now 3 yrs. later i have not told my borther his status i told him he has a blood disease and that he has to take meds not to get sick(Not a Lie). he is getting to older by the day.Everyday i try to build the confidence and find the strength to tell him. When is a good time to tell him and how?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

All kids are different and each situation is different. Chances are your brother already knows or suspects more than you might think. My advice with kids (and everyone else, for that matter) is to be honest. Always answer his questions honestly, providing him with specific and honest answers to whatever questions he may pose. You don't need to give an entire AIDS medical lesson to a 10-year-old. Try to speak in terms he'll understand. He knows he has a blood disease. Advise him it's caused by a germ and that's why he needs to take medicines. He may have questions about how his mom died. Answer these honestly. He may be concerned that if Mom died of this germ that he will too. You'll have to reassure him that is why he is taking the medication and visiting the doctor intermittently. Hopefully he is seeing a pediatric HIV/AIDS specialist. If not, he should be. If you have a good rapport with this specialist, he/she may also be very helpful in helping to inform your brother about his illness. (I've helped families explain this situation to youngsters many times in the past as I was a pediatrician before becoming a clinical immunologist/HIV specialist.) Pediatricians in general are usually quite adept at knowing what, how and how much to tell to kids. You might also check out organizations like the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation for helpful information.

Good luck. I'm here if you need me, OK?

Dr. Bob



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