Raising a child with HIV is not a child’s play. It needs courage, mental strength, social support and a lot of handy information to bring up a child with HIV. However, the social stigma around this condition even prevents people from being open and seek timely help. Sometimes, the parents even try to hide the condition from their own child who is suffering, which leads to long-term risk for the child and others around him/her. Though it’s quite challenging for the parents, the path to disease management can only be designed with acceptance & awareness which might include multiple phases of unpleasant confrontations, highs and lows. The key to raise an HIV-infected child starts with the coping skills of the parents.
Coping Skills for the Parents with HIV Positive Child
1. Overcome the guilt:
It is important for you, as a parent, to overcome the guilt of having your child in this condition. Letting it go is the only way out now. Also, when you would be able to deal with your feelings, then only you would be able to take care of your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing. So, stop thinking “why it happened” and focus on “how to make it better every day” with a strong heart.
2. Acceptance is important:
At first, you might feel like denying the reality, which is normal. Actually, this is the first step towards coping up with the situation. But this denial for long, might take a toll on your emotional and physical health while keeping your child away from the right treatment. This will also not let you enter the supportive network you badly deserve to be positive and motivated.
“Be Positive with an HIV Positive Child”
3. Hiding the child’s condition will not help:
Keeping it is secret might deprive you of the help others can extend regarding the treatment and required lifestyle changes. Also, others being unaware of the condition, might not render help to your child during any health emergency in your absence. So, discuss about your kid’s health in your family and friends’ groups, in the school and across his/her closer peer group.
4. Lean towards passive spiritual and social support:
Faith is an important internal strength that can guide you to win over your sadness and grief. Develop a strong belief system inside you and your child through religious and spiritual support systems available to you. Joining support groups and social communities dedicated for the cause can also keep you positive and motivated to strongly face the days of sickness and dullness of your child.
5. Overprotection and phobias should be limited:
The fear of an impending child loss makes the parents phobic, over-conscious and alert all the time. This makes the child overly dependent on the parents, causing a delay in their social, cognitive, and linguistic development. Try to win over your fear by dedicating yourself completely to the care of your child and not on over-protection of the child. Let the child learn, acquire, and develop all the skills naturally.
6. Be financially ready:
HIV treatment increases the healthcare expenses and causes disruption of savings. Lack of financial resources can make you compromise on child’s medical care, treatment facilities, and quality of life at home. Be prepared with the right choice of health insurance, if any, and explore other methods of generating finances to be used in case of any sudden medical need of your child.
7. Maintain clinical records:
Immunity deficient child acquires infections and diseases frequently which make them visit a doctor every now and then. Keeping the health chart updated is the road to a safe treatment in present and in the future. You can produce the clinical records and other important documents anytime, if kept safely, to initiate the treatment at the earliest. This will bring efficiency and accuracy in the treatment provided.
8. Sensitize and educate your child:
Awareness goes a long way in managing HIV, so educate your child about this health condition and basic precautions he/she needs to take. A little information about self-care, use of personal products, importance of medications, avoidance of unhealthy food, and staying safe from infections will involve your child in the self-care and will make your job a little easier.
A few more tips that can help you:
- Attend some program on parent-to-child communication specific to AIDS
- Find information and resources on AIDS to remain updated
- If you feel alone, find other parents seeking health care support or join an internet group
- If you also have HIV, take best care of yourself to be available to your child
- Don’t hesitate in asking for help, taking breaks is a must for you
NOTE: Work closely with your child’s doctor. A child with HIV not only requires medical treatment, but also psychological help from the experts. A doctor would plan the best holistic care continuum for your child’s physical and mental wellbeing.