Reasons You Must Talk About HIV/AIDS With Your Child

Sometimes, parents are hesitant to have open discussions about HIV with their child. However, it is vital this sensitive subject is explained to children to ensure they lead healthy, protected lives.

By Ashwin Dewan

Reasons You Must Talk About HIV/AIDS With Your Child

Ravi Shukla, a businessman, is a proud father to two children – sixteen-year-old Akash and twenty-one-year-old Ruhi, who is in college. Ravi is one of those parents who hesitates to talk about sex education with his children. He considers sex education classes in school and college sufficient to teach his children all about the subject. One day, Ravi was shattered to find that his daughter had contracted the dreaded HIV virus. Suddenly, many things began playing in his mind – did she have unprotected sexual intercourse? Turned out that his daughter had been injected with an infected needle during a blood donation camp.

Yes, Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus (AIDS) is not only transmitted through sexual intercourse. It can be contracted through several ways and children should have a thorough knowledge of the subject.

UNAIDS Ending AIDS Report 2017, released in Paris, stated that India had 2.1 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016. According to a leading health website, four million teens each year get a sexually transmitted disease (STD), which raises the chances of getting HIV.

As a parent, one must have an open dialogue with their child about HIV and AIDS. You should talk to your child about HIV/AIDS to:

1) Dispel myths about HIV/AIDS:

Myths about HIV are plenty. For instance, one can get AIDS by touching an infected person. You should explain why and how the disease is transmitted to your child so that she does not grow discriminating against people with AIDS. Teach your child that HIV cannot be transmitted through insect bites or stings, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing dishes or living with a person who has AIDS.

2) Keep your child informed about HIV symptoms:

When some people are infected with HIV, they experience flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, headache, sore throat and muscle and joint pain within the first one to two weeks. Some children may not experience symptoms at all during this early stages of the infection, which can lead to the spread of the deadly virus. As parents, you should try to educate your children all about the symptoms.

3) Create sexual awareness for reducing HIV risk:

It has been seen that teens, especially those who understand the various risks associated with unprotected sex usually delay their first sexual experience. Well-informed children will not put their lives at risk by engaging in unsafe sex. This, in turn, will greatly reduce the risks associated with early sexual behaviour as children will be more aware of the pros and cons of indulging in sexual intercourse.

Go through this ClipBook that looks at survivors of AIDS and their incredible story of battle and determination.

4) Address children's curiosity in a proper way:

Children are full of curiosity, questions and are eager to experiment and try out new things, which might prove detrimental. When it comes to sex, children can make wrong choices that can result in serious health problems with HIV/AIDS being the deadliest of them all. Parents can try various methods such as engage in friendly talks, offer unconditional support, build a healthy rapport, patiently listen to questions, etc. One should extend your full support to them to solve their queries and guide them in the right direction.

5) Explain the dangers of using infected injections:

AIDS is not solely transmitted through unsafe sex. Sometimes, it passes on through an infected needle or syringe. In fact, using unclean or sharing injecting drug equipment is one way through which HIV spreads. This can happen when children or youth share needles for drug use, body piercing and/or for tattoos. For today's child, getting a tattoo has become a fashion statement. Little do they understand the precautions they need to take.

Talking about such a subject is not an easy task, but children need to be informed nevertheless. By acting responsibly and providing accurate and reliable information, you can address your child’s fears and curiosity, help them avoid getting incorrect information and protect them from the risk of getting AIDS.

Do you know that there is a difference between HIV and AIDS?

HIV is a virus that attacks a type of white blood cells in the immune system of a body. It reduces the ability of the body to fight infection and illness. Once contracted, the body can never completely remove HIV. HIV is passed from one person to another through unprotected sex.

AIDS is a condition that normally develops after a person gets HIV. It is possible to have HIV without developing AIDS but one cannot have AIDS without contracting HIV first. AIDS is primarily a sexually transmitted disease.

Symptoms of HIV:

Muscle ache, chills, fatigue, fever, night sweats, ulcer, rashes, headache, sore throat, joint pain, diarrhea, swollen lymph nodes, etc. are some of the symptoms of HIV. One must note that symptoms of HIV differ from person to person and also depends on which stage the infection is.

This video explains the pathophysiology of viral infection, as well as important signs and symptoms of HIV and clinical markers of AIDS. It also gives an overview of diagnosis and treatment.

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