Parents' Disclosure of Their HIV Infection to Their Children in the Context of the Family

Published in: AIDS and Behavior, v. 14, no. 5, Oct. 2010, p. 1095-1105

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2010

by David P. Kennedy, Burton O. Cowgill, Laura M. Bogart, Rosalie Corona, Gery W. Ryan, Debra A. Murphy, Theresa Nguyen, Mark A. Schuster

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We interviewed 33 HIV-infected parents from the HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study (HCSUS), 27 of their minor children, 19 adult children, and 15 caregivers about the process of children learning that their parents were HIV positive. We summarize the retrospective descriptions of parents' disclosure of their HIV status to their children, from the perspective of multiple family members. We analyzed transcripts of these interviews with systematic qualitative methods. Both parents and children reported unplanned disclosure experiences with positive and negative outcomes. Parents sometimes reported that disclosure was not as negative as they feared. However, within-household analysis showed disagreement between parents and children from the same household regarding disclosure outcomes. These findings suggest that disclosure should be addressed within a family context to facilitate communication and children's coping. Parents should consider negative and positive outcomes, unplanned disclosure and children's capacity to adapt after disclosure when deciding whether to disclose.

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