If you are a parent, the HIV discussion is never comfortable or easy for you. Many parents also do not want to worry about their child contracting HIV. They can, however, and avoiding the subject may injure them. In the United States, one amongst four people, new HIV infections occur in teenagers and young adults.
Because AIDS did not exist when they were growing up, earlier generations of a lot of adults did not learn how to initiate or have dialogues about HIV from their parents. So, if you are or are not very comfortable with this matter, you should tell your child about it. Your honesty will encourage them to start opening up to you.
You may and should also talk to them about sex, drugs, and the terrible consequences such as HIV and AIDS, as difficult as they may be.
HIV does pose a threat to children
When children have sex with, are sexually assaulted by, or exchange needles and syringes with somebody else who has HIV, they might contract HIV.
In 2017, almost 4 out of 10 high school pupils have engaged in sexual activity. Each year, ten million new sexually transmitted infections (STDs) are recorded among young individuals aged 15 to 24, increasing their risk of contracting HIV.
Steroids or hormones, along with street narcotics like heroin, may be injected by teenagers. They are allowed to reuse needles for body art, such as piercing and tattooing.
Make sure you know everything there is to know about HIV
Understanding and preventing HIV and AIDS requires accurate knowledge. Myths can be dangerous. Knowing the facts about HIV and AIDS can help you live a healthier and more fulfilling life.
- AIDS is caused by the HIV virus. If your CD4 count falls below 200 or you have certain infections or malignancies, you have AIDS. It is possible to have HIV for years without developing AIDS. Being HIV-positive does not mean you will acquire AIDS.
- Newer HIV tests detect both the virus and a p24 antigen marker on the virus. 3 These tests are more sensitive than prior testing at detecting HIV infection. A second test to confirm the results can also reveal the type of HIV infection you have. Get more information on HIV testing.
- HIV is incurable. Currently, there is no cure for HIV. Women can now reduce their viral load (the quantity of HIV in their blood) to undetectable levels thanks to modern medication. This suggests that your viral load in a blood sample is less than 40 to 75 copies. A viral load that is undetectable does not mean you are HIV-free. HIV can still be transmitted to others, albeit the risk is significantly lower. Having an undetectable viral load can also assist you to avoid developing AIDS or contracting other diseases.
There is research underway that could lead to new therapies and strategies to avoid HIV infection. Meanwhile, HIV-positive women lead full lives, including working, having children, and fully engaging in their communities. People with HIV who begin therapy early in their infection, stick with it, and maintain an undetectable viral load can also stay healthy and avoid developing AIDS.
- There is no HIV vaccine available.
Currently, there is no HIV vaccine available. Vaccines are the most effective approach to prevent diseases spread by other people, such as measles, mumps, and polio. For more than two decades, scientists have been working to develop a safe and effective HIV vaccine. The HIV virus is a complex virus that evolves throughout time. This makes vaccine research challenging, and the process takes a long time. Researchers are getting closer to producing an HIV vaccine as well as an AIDS vaccine.
- HIV patients should begin treatment as soon as possible.
HIV weakens your immune system, even if you are feeling fine and have no symptoms. Most specialists advocate starting HIV drugs (also known as antiretroviral therapy or ART (Assistive Reproductive Technology)) as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV to protect your immune system. Because these treatments lower your “viral load,” or the amount of HIV in your blood, you are less likely to infect others.
Even if you and your partner are both HIV-positive, you must use a condom during intercourse.
- Even if you and your partner both have HIV, you should engage in safer sexual behavior. When having vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse, always use a condom. Other sexually transmitted infectious diseases can be avoided by using condoms (STIs (sexually transmitted infections)).
- Men can contract HIV from women.
Although it is more difficult for men to contract HIV than women, it does happen. HIV can enter a man’s body through the entrance of the penis tip and cuts or sores on the shaft that is not visible.
- HIV can infect lesbians.
Women who have only ever had intercourse with women are extremely unlikely to contract or transmit HIV. HIV, on the other hand, can be transmitted through vaginal secretions and menstrual blood.
- Sharing needles, getting tattoos, or having body piercings are all ways to contract HIV.
In the United States, sharing needles is the second most common route for HIV to transmit among women (sex is the most common way). Any woman who shares needles with an HIV-positive or HIV-unknown person is at risk of contracting the virus. Learn more about HIV risk and needle sharing.
HIV can also be transmitted through tattoos and piercing tools that have not been properly sterilized between clients. Cutting tools should be used once and then discarded or sanitized between usage. If you (or your partner) have HIV and yeast infection or are on your period, avoid sex. Also, sex toys should not be shared since minute particles in the fluids on sex toys might transmit HIV. Drugs and sharing needles or syringes can potentially spread HIV. As quickly as possible, correct any misconceptions regarding HIV and persons living with it.
Talk to your kids
Keep an eye out for signs that they cannot take in much more knowledge right now. Kids frequently must face difficult or frightening issues in small chunks.
You do not have to bring up HIV in your first sex conversation. In fact, connecting the two right away could provide the wrong impression. Be prepared to talk about death once you start talking about AIDS. Use teachable moments to your advantage. Film and television plots and characters, news events and individuals, and public service announcements can all open the door. What would you do in that situation? What are your thoughts on the individual? Even the birth of a child or a pet can spark a discourse, especially with children.
Do not dismiss their inquiries. If you do not know the answer, tell them you will not know until you do. Tell them you will talk about it later if it is not an appropriate time to talk. Then go for it.
You might believe you have discussed these issues with your high schooler, but have you? You may have mentioned medical terms that are vital to comprehend. Your child, on the other hand, requires practical knowledge, such as how to use a condom. Your teen is three times more likely to use condoms if you talk to them about them before they have sex.
How should you address HIV?
Know that insects do not spread HIV. Toilet seats do not transmit HIV. In fact, no sexually transmitted illnesses have been documented to spread through toilets. Oral intercourse is not entirely risk-free. Many teenagers think this, however oral intercourse, particularly oral-penile sex, or oral-anal contact, can spread the illness and other sexually transmitted infections. Blood from a small cut on an HIV-positive person is still infectious. The virus, on the other hand, is easily killed by using detergent or exposing it to air.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, parents should inform their children that:
- AIDS is usually lethal.
- AIDS can affect anyone. Although it may not appear that children and HIV are a concern, many teenagers have been affected.
- Condoms can help you avoid contracting AIDS.
- Even one contaminated needle or one sexual act with an HIV-positive person can cause AIDS.
Set the Scene for Your HIV Conversation
You might be concerned that discussing sex, drugs, and HIV is too much, too soon, or that your child will try sex and drugs. That is not true, according to research. Friends, TV, movies, social media, and school are all sources of information for children. By the third grade, everyone has heard of AIDS. You can begin by discussing body parts with young toddlers. Encourage any child to value their physical well-being. AIDS is a disease that causes severe illness. It is caused by the HIV virus, which is a microscopic germ. A more mature child can take in more information. Preteens should be informed about how condoms can help prevent HIV transmission.
Boosting their self-esteem will also assist them in resisting peer pressure. Demonstrate how to respectfully say no. Teach your youngster that saying no is OK, even if it is not popular or cool.
Children notice your reactions as well as what you say. Your answers (or lack thereof) to questions regarding wrath, aggravation, or discomfort reveal a lot about your beliefs.
The Benefits of Discussing HIV
You can ensure that they are receiving information as well as your family’s values by having these continuing discussions. When you talk to your child about HIV and AIDS, they are more likely to put off sex and avoid dangerous behaviors like unprotected sex or sharing needles. You are establishing the foundation for their future as well. Teens who have talked about sex with their parents are seven times more likely to feel comfortable discussing HIV with a sex partner. This will assist in keeping children safe.
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