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Should I tell the children

Dec 24, 2010

My husband and the father of my two children had an affair about 7 years ago. He contracted HIV from the woman. It was a horrible, frightening time in my life as I feared he had made me a victim as well. I don't understand why, but by the grace of God, my test results were negative on three different tests since I learned of the affair. My husband died of AIDS and now I am left as a truly single parent. I have been debating about whether I should tell my children...ever. They are all under 18 right now. It is a double edge sword because not only will they learn about their father's affair but they will also be faced with the HIV fears. We live in a small town and fortunately, some degree of confidentiality has been maintained about my husband's diagnosis or else no one would ever have anything to do with me or my children, who have also tested negative. Please help me decide what to do.

Response from Dr. Frascino


As everyone's situation is unique, it's difficult for me to advise you exactly what to do. As a general rule, I always encourage openness and honesty.

I understand your concerns about your children learning about their father's infidelity; however, I don't understand why you feel they would be "faced with the HIV fears." You and your children have tested HIV negative. You could use this opportunity to teach your children about HIV so they won't be frightened of the virus and know how to protect themselves from becoming infected. The conversations would have to be age appropriate. I don't know the exact ages of your two kids, but if you decide to inform them and are having difficulty, you could consider enlisting the help of their pediatrician or a counselor.

Dr. Bob

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