Talking to Children About HIV and AIDS

Some adults think that AIDS has nothing to do with children. But children hear and see the same things about AIDS that adults do. Some of this can be contradictory, inaccurate and sometimes highly prejudiced. All children are affected by this.

Some children are confused by what they hear about AIDS and end up believing things that are totally untrue. Some become anxious. Others see AIDS as having nothing to do with them. If children are to be able to protect themselves from HIV, and care about people who are infected, they need access to good information.

But knowing the "facts" about HIV and AIDS is not enough. Children need to be able to talk and ask questions about HIV and AIDS, and they need opportunities to explore some of their beliefs and feelings.

It's good to talk

Perhaps the most important thing is to try and create an atmosphere where children feel listened to, cared for and respected. When they do talk about AIDS, you can listen to what they have to say, acknowledge their fears, reassure them, answer their questions and sort out any confusions. You can also intervene if you hear children repeating inaccurate or prejudiced information.

For example, if AIDS is used as a term of abuse then you could intervene. If nothing is said or done, they will think that you agree or approve. Challenging discrimination and prejudice helps to counteract some of the things children may hear or read elsewhere.

Talking to children may involve discussing things you don't normally talk about. But children who grow up to be able to talk about sex without feeling too embarrassed, may have a better chance of having safer sexual relationships in the future.

Thinking things through

You will feel more comfortable talking to a child if you have thought about some of the questions which may arise in discussion, for example "How do people get AIDS?" and "What is a condom?".

Children pick up on how we feel about things from the way we behave. It is important to be clear about your own beliefs and attitudes on things like:


It is also important to be clear about the facts.

Answering Children's questions

When a child does ask you a question, try to
listen carefully
take seriously what they say
answer at their level and
be as honest as possible.



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