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International News

Scotland: Children's Fears for HIV Parents

March 21, 2002

Children living with HIV-positive parents are suffering in silence, according to a Scottish report. Researchers said youngsters had significant worries about their parents and themselves, but felt they were unable to talk to either their family or teachers about their concerns because of stigma and fear. The three-year study, which is said to be the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, was carried out by the national agency Children in Scotland and the University of Edinburgh. Children and young people in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow were interviewed in the study.

More young people are facing life with an HIV-positive parent because of the growing rate of heterosexual infection and because of treatment improvements that prolong life. Researchers asked the youths what it was like to live with a parent with HIV. Many of the children had already witnessed the death of one parent due to HIV/AIDS.

Many youths did not talk about the illness with their parents for fear of upsetting them. Most of the children said they did not want their teachers to know and that they were not in a position to talk with medical staff. This often left children with no one to turn to for information, advice or support. Many local authorities are said to have cut back on funding for support services, even though the number of cases is on the rise. The report is being presented to a conference in Edinburgh this week. It recommends that all health boards should carry out an audit to identify the numbers of children and young people either using their services or accompanying their parents to health services.

Figures for December 2001 showed that there were more than 2,000 people in Scotland with HIV. The number of heterosexual cases was higher than that for gay men. It is estimated that there have been an average of 163 new cases every year since 1990.


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Adapted from:
BBC News

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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