“Are you going to die, Mom?” Research shows that talking to your young children about your HIV status helps them cope better

New scientific research from South Africa strengthens international evidence that children whose parents have a life-threatening disease such as HIV can benefit from their parents communicating with them about their illness and possible death.

South Africa has high rates of HIV and recent estimates from 23 Sub-Saharan African countries show that up to 30% of children live in a household with an HIV-infected parent, most often their mother. This increases the chances that from early on in their life children might be exposed to parental illness, hospitalisation and death.

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