10 guidelines for discussing HIV/AIDS with your child

These conversations are never easy but they will benefit your child in the long-run – here's how to do it.

15 June 2015
by Kassabaine Petersen

According to loveLife, a South African teenager has a 1 in 4 chance of becoming HIV-positive by age 30. But children who learn about sex from their parents rather than their peers are more inclined to delay having sex, feel more at ease talking to their parents about other issues such as drugs and alcohol, and are more averse to risky behaviour, which may lead to them contracting HIV, say the experts. 

It is quite normal for parents to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed talking to their children and teenagers about sex. You may feel like it is too much too soon! But the reality in this digital world is that children are exposed to sexual material much earlier than previous generations.

That, coupled with the danger of HIV infection, means that parents need to encourage openness regarding their children’s sexuality through constant, age-appropriate communication, says Pauline Jooste, outreach facilitator at Hope Cape Town, an NGO working to address the HIV and Aids pandemic through education and support.

It is up to parents to help break the cycle of HIV infection by talking to their child about waiting until they’re older to start having sex, how to deal with coercion, and protecting themselves when they do embark on sexual relationships.

“Providing strong, positive messages, both verbal and non-verbal, are key,” says Jooste.

10 crucial guidelines for educating your child about HIV

1. Be a good role model. Your children will take their cue from you.

2. If you lack the confidence to have these discussions, ask your Clicks nurse to assist, with you as caregiver present.

3. Start early with discussions about body parts and teach them to say “no” respectfully, even when it is not a popular response. This will foster self-esteem in the face of peer pressure.

4. Talking about sex and condoms should be done in an age-appropriate manner.

5. Use opportune moments for the start of the conversation about sex and HIV/AIDS: a movie, birth of a baby or pet can be great conversation starters.

6. Follow this up by asking them what they know about the disease.

7. Only answer the questions that they ask, and progress, as they grow older.

8. It is important for them to know how a person can get infected in order to prevent infection. So talk about the danger of having multiple partners without protection, being sexually abused, and sharing needles and syringes with someone who has HIV.

9. At the same time, tell them that it is OK to hug, touch, share utensils and have an HIV-infected friend.

10. It is crucial that you communicate without stigma, labelling and judgment. Prejudice often develops in the home, and it is important that as a society we eradicate the stigma associated with HIV, says Jooste.

How Clicks Clinics can help you

Did you know Clicks offers HIV testing and counselling at their clinics? To make an appointment at a Clicks Clinic, call 0860 254 257 or book online at Clicks Clinics online

HIV home test kits are also available for purchase in-store.

Shop online at Clicks.co.za for condoms

Don't be caught unawares – rather stock up on condoms via the convenience of online shopping so that you can ensure you're practising safe sex at all times.

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com

Read More: HIV/AIDS Super Section