AT what age do you tell your child they were born HIV positive?
Most mums find it very uncomfortable to disclose their HIV-positive status to their children, while other mums don’t tell their children at all if they were born HIV positive.
Dr Marnie Vujovic, adolescent psychosocial programme manager at Right to Care, said revealing and discussing a child’s HIV status with them would be frightening but they needed to be told.
“Many parents and caregivers delay telling children about their HIV-positive status or mislead the child about why they take anti-retroviral (ARV) medication.”
She said waiting until a child enters adolescence before they know about their HIV status could be a problem for the child.
“Adolescence is the worst time to disclose because a young person is already struggling to come to terms with looming adulthood.”
The Right to Care paediatric and adolescent programme has developed useful tools to help clinics disclose to their patients and to run adolescent support groups.
It also provides training, mentoring, and runs helplines to assist clinics in managing their paediatric and adolescent patients.
“HIV in children, adolescents and adults can be controlled if everyone with HIV knows their status and takes ARVs consistently.”
Significant advances have been made with regards to managing HIV/Aids as well as reducing the number of new HIV infections among children in Mzansi.
Dr Julia Turner, paediatric medical advisor at Right to Care, said that in just over 10 years, the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission programme, led by the Department of Health, reduced HIV transmission to babies from around 30% to less than 2%.
Regular testing of pregnant or breastfeeding women for HIV also helped reduced HIV transmission in babies by around 28%.
Babies born to HIV-positive mums are given preventive ARVs for the first weeks of life.
Advances in birth testing has enabled HIV-positive newborns to be put on ARV treatment immediately instead of waiting six weeks like they had to before.