Who to Tell?

Your initial feeling may be that you can tell your immediate family as you are all in the same household and can trust them, however it is important to follow the same rules that are set out in the confidentiality area. This is not your information to share without the permission of the child or parent/social worker.

If you find this difficult, you can begin asking yourself some questions. For example, who needs to know this information? You may feel you want to tell someone in your family, but do they need to know?

As there is no risk of transmission through living in the same household, it is clear there is no need for other members of your household (or your extended family) to know.

This is very important to people living with HIV as they fear how people will respond to them once they know their HIV status and once you pass this information on, you can never get that information back. You may think you are just telling your partner, child or sibling, but then who will they tell and how can you, and more importantly the person who’s HIV status you are sharing, control this information flow?

If you need to talk through these issues, the child’s nurse is a good person to contact and they will also be able to give you general guidance and support on caring for the child.

Clearly if an older child is living with you for a longer period of time, they may build close trusting relationships with other members of your household, and they may choose to tell someone else in your family about their HIV status. You must always remember this is their decision and not yours.

Should I tell anyone outside of my family?

HIV is a non-notifiable disease, which means by law you do not have to tell anyone. There will already be a lot of professionals involved with this child, and those of them who need to know will already know.

Due to the discrimination people with HIV have experienced, most families choose not to tell schools, extended family members, youth clubs etc. You can find out more information about this on this site in schools and HIV.

Remember, the decision on who else knows about a child's HIV status is made by them or their parent/social worker.


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