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Jun 9, 2009

Dear Dr. Bob, Please help me. I went to take my son today to his ID Doctor and his Specialist threatened me by saying that if I did not tell my son his status, they would. The Doctor then came in and IN FRONT OF MY SON without my consent, told me, "You need to start telling your son his status now." He then turned to my son and asked, "Do you know what you are sick with?" My son lowered his head and said, "No, but my mom explained that I must take my meds every day." He then reiterated that I must tell him and that he was going to speak with me about this again soon. I was ambushed and feel violated. I currently reside in Texas. Do you know Dr. Bob what Texas law says regarding this issue? Do they have the right to disclose to my son without my consent and if so, at what age can they legally do so? PLEASE DOCTOR BOB! I CAN'T STOP CRYING. IT WAS DEVASTATING. I WISH, WITH ALL MY HEART THAT I COULD CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR ORGANIZATION, but living on SSI alone and raising three children... well... I know you understand. What can you tell me about this doctor? I anxiously await your reply and pray you can help me. Thanking you now and always for the blessings that you have always given me through your replies. Love you... Mommy of three

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Mommy of Three,

Texas is a whacky place (after all Bush lives there, right?), but I doubt there are any laws about a doctor disclosing a diagnosis to his patient. However, I do agree this was handled badly. The specialist should have offered to help you explain what's going on to your son in terms he understands and in ways that won't frighten him. I don't know how old your son is, but I encourage parents to begin telling their HIV-positive kids as soon as possible. The words HIV/AIDS don't have to be used early on. However, the concept of a germ is helpful. For instance, you could discuss how when Grandma gets a cold it's due to a "germ" and she may have to take medicine to get better. Then move on to discuss that your son has a germ too and he needs to take medicines and have blood tests to get better and stay healthy. After that you should be prepared to answer any questions the youngster asks with direct honesty. You should give just the information that he asks for and not an entire dissertation on the pandemic. Just honestly and straightforwardly answer all his questions. I understand the desire to protect kids from this reality for as long as possible. However, ultimately they need to know the truth and I've found the best way is to introduce that truth early on. This prevents the youngster from formulating his own thoughts about his medications or why he is different from other kids, etc. Pediatric HIV specialists are usually excellent in knowing exactly how to talk to kids, based on their age, and should be able to help you get your youngster up to speed on what's happening in a nonthreatening way.

Hope that helps.

Dr. Bob

bio student--damn you were right
FOLLOW-UP to "Never asked.. good karma to follow + donation"

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