What was your experience telling the children in your life about your HIV status?

Ivy's Answer

My experience telling the children in my life about my HIV status occurred in 2013.

I have been HIV positive for almost 30 years and don’t have any biological children. I had three miscarriages prior to my diagnosis, so the children in my life are my nieces and nephews. I didn’t tell any of my nieces or nephews about my HIV status until they were teenagers. They knew I had an illness, but didn’t know it was HIV. My disclosure wasn’t planned, one of my nieces, at age 14, asked if I had cancer because she was afraid I might die. Her mother had already given permission to discuss my diagnosis with the children when I thought it was appropriate. I asked my niece if she knew about HIV, she said she had heard of it but wasn’t sure what HIV actually was. First, I told her not to worry because I was getting the best medical care and I was not going to die. Second, I explained what HIV was and how I had contracted it. It was a difficult conversation, but to my niece’s credit, she was sad but she didn’t freak out. Third, I asked her not to share our conversation with her younger siblings. My niece agreed they were too young to understand and she kept her promise. I  have had a conversation with each niece and nephew individually when they turned 14 and they have always been very supportive.

There is no easy way to discuss your HIV status with the children in your life.  It can be a daunting challenge.  Be honest and try not to be overly emotional.

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