MY SON JACOB
Feb 20, 2008
My son Jacob just turned 7 last week. He does not know he is hiv+, he just know he takes meds so he doesn't get sick. When is the appropriate age to tell my son of his status? This will be the second worst day of my life. Thank you.
Response from Dr. Frascino
I understand how difficult this task will be for you. There is no exact right time to inform a youngster he or she has HIV, because kids mature at different rates. I do have two pieces of advice that I've found to be extremely helpful in this situation:
1. Always be direct and honest with your son. Never lie to try to protect his feelings. If he asks any questions, answer them honestly without trying to explain everything there is to know about HIV. Too much information may confuse him. He'll let you know when he's ready for more information by asking more questions. Just be open and honest and assure him HIV is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by.
2. Have his HIV specialist help you in beginning the discussion with your son. He has to go in for routine blood tests and visits anyway. So let the HIV specialist explain a bit about what's going on and why he has to take medication and get blood tests. The pediatric HIV specialist who is working with your son more than likely has had considerable experience in discussing the topic with kids and understands how to explain things in a way that shouldn't upset or scare your son. The specialist will also clue you in on how to answer the questions your son will inevitably begin to ask after the conversation is begun. I've helped a number of youngsters and their parents through this process and I can tell you from personal experience it's far harder on the parent than the child. You need to remain upbeat and optimistic as your son comes to grips with his HIV status. Remember, be honest at all costs!
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