The Answers to Parents

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The Answers to Parents Most Common Questions


Should I tell my child about AIDS?

Many parents would like to avoid discussing AIDS with their child. However, kids are aware of the disease. They hear about it on TV and radio, they see stories about it in papers and magazines, and they hear adults and other children talk about it. They’ve heard that AIDS patients die. They also believe the disease is mysterious, since they aren’t sure why or how people get it. This makes AIDS scary to them.

When you talk to your child about AIDS, you have the difficult task of presenting accurate information without making her unnecessarily frightened. Since children are not likely to pick up the disease, you can be honest but reassuring about her chances of exposure.

Let her ask questions and tell you what she already knows about the illness. Some of her information may be very inaccurate. Some of her questions may be too complex for you to answer without doing some research. Still, open communication is the best way to ensure that she forms a realistic idea of the disease.

She may believe that AIDS is as easy to catch as chicken pox or a cold. Let her know that all viruses are not alike, and that AIDS is very difficult to contract. Give details you consider appropriate for her level of maturity: “People who have the virus in their bodies sometimes pass it on to others.” “Doctors can check people’s blood to see if they have the disease.” “There are things people can do to make sure they don’t get AIDS.” Explain that AIDS is passed on mainly through sex and through drug users’ needles.

Your child will feel less concerned about AIDS if she can discuss it with you. If she doesn’t mention the disease on her own by the time she’s nine, you might want to bring it up as part of a general discussion of health, safety, sex, and growing up. There are good children’s books on the subject that you and she can read together. It also might help her to know that doctors and researchers are actively looking for ways to prevent and cure AIDS.






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