Travelling, school trips and sleepovers are an important part of growing up. It’s where a child can become more independent, and learn to take responsibility for themselves, and they are a huge amount of fun. If a school or household does not know your child is HIV positive and your child takes HIV medication, these things may seem a little difficult. We have heard from many HIV positive young people who were not allowed on school trips or to sleep at friends houses and they thought this was unfair and singled them out as being different.
A child with HIV may often feel different and isolated. It is important to encourage them to participate in as much of their school and social life as they can and allow them to have the same opportunities as their friends.
If you can afford it, then your HIV positive child should be given the opportunity to go on school trips. If your child takes medication, this should not stop them going away either with their school or at any other time. If the school knows your child has HIV, discuss the issue of medication with the member of staff you know and trust. If the school does not know, you may decide it is time to tell them and you can get some support for this from this website in HIV and schools.
If the school does not know and you are not ready to tell them, we would advise that you book an appointment with your child’s nurse to discuss the options you have. If your child is able to manage their own medication, the nurse will help you and your child work out how this can best be managed. If your child cannot, then the nurse may be able to give you alternative suggestions. Be imaginative, as your child does not want to miss out.
Staying at friends' houses
Children love sleeping over at their friends' houses; it is a time when they get to feel a little independent and develop closer friendships outside of school.
If you do not want to tell the family where your child is staying that your child has HIV, you can still manage this. Again, remember that your child’s nurse will have ideas to help you work out how to manage this. You can talk this through with them at your child’s next appointment.
If your child knows their HIV status, you can talk about this together and decide what you will tell the parents of your child's friends about your child’s medication. They may be at an age where they can manage their medication themselves, but from our experience of taking HIV positive young people away, if there are lots of things going on, it is good to have an adult who can remind your child to take their medication and have somewhere to store it safely away from the other children. A simple way you can do this is through a text message if they have a mobile phone, or a pill box with an alarm on it – your nurse should be able to get you one of these – so your child is reminded.
Your child’s nurse will want your child to experience all these fun aspects of childhood, so between you, you should be able to find ways around most obstacles.
The key things to remember here are:
Many schools now run trips for teenagers where your child can go abroad. It is important that you make sure your child has travel insurance that covers their HIV. If the school does not know your child has HIV when they are abroad, you need to talk with your child about how both of you will manage this.
Although the best option is that the school has this information, so that if your child is in an accident they can receive the care they need, if this is not possible, it should not stop your child going on the trip. All health care professionals and first aiders will use universal precautions, so there is no fear of onward infection of HIV. If your child was in an accident or became ill, the school would contact you immediately so you could then advise them, if needed, about your child’s HIV status.
Between you and your child, you can decide what you will do in different situations. Accidents and ill health are highly unlikely, but by doing this planning in advance, you will have agreed what will happen when, and who will be told. You can always talk this through with your child’s nurse or doctor.
There are insurance companies that specialise in insuring HIV positive people, so you can get your child separate health insurance. Some HIV friendly companies are: It’s so easy, Good To Go and World First, so call around these to get your best quote.