What we've been up to this month:

One of the most difficult things about living with HIV is people find it very difficult to talk about. Even though HIV has been around for getting on for 40 years it is still something people often don’t understand, and sadly remains very stigmatised.

Not talking about HIV in families leads to most younger children not knowing that they live with HIV.

They go to clinics their whole lives, have blood taken, and are required to take complex daily medicine that requires very careful management to ensure its effectiveness. But most children under the age of 12 we find, still don’t know the name of their health condition.

CHIVA have worked hard in recent years to try and change this practice. Believing that a child should know about their own health condition at a younger age, and that when they do know we can make sure they understand HIV, get support and meet other children also growing up with HIV.

So we work with families and help them to tell their child they have HIV.

Some families want to do this outside of clinics, and this is where CHIVA can help.

A CHIVA staff member has recently been working with a family where a child aged 10 who does not know that they have HIV. Visiting the family at home, holding discussions with the parent. Helping them prepare for the conversation, what information is important and how this can be given in an age appropriate way. Providing reassurance, support and guidance. The next meeting is when the child will be told about their HIV. It can be very helpful for a family to have someone else there, particularly to answer questions and provide support and reassurance.

So a CHIVA staff member will be there and take information along to help the child understand what it means. For families telling a child they have HIV can be a huge worry. They will most likely also be telling them that their parent also has the virus, and in some cases that this was the cause of the death of one of their parents. A CHIVA staff member will follow up with another visit after the child has been told, to offer further support and answer any questions the child has. As with all of our work we try to support children and their families so that they understand HIV better, get the support and information they need. Ultimately so that HIV becomes just a small part of their lives.