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HIV CLINICAL RESOURCE • www.hivguidelines.org Office of the Medical Director NYS DOH AIDS Institute in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University Division of Infectious Diseases. Disclosure of HIV to Perinatally Infected Children and Adolescents.

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HIV CLINICAL RESOURCE •www.hivguidelines.orgOffice of the Medical Director NYS DOH AIDS Institute in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University Division of Infectious Diseases

Disclosure of HIV to Perinatally Infected Children and Adolescents

HIV Clinical Guidelines from the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute

November 2009


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Disclosure of HIV status is not a one-time event, but rather a process, involving ongoing discussions about the disease as the child matures cognitively, emotionally, and sexually.

www.hivguidelines.org


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Why is HIV Disclosure Important? a process, involving ongoing discussions about the disease as the child matures cognitively, emotionally, and sexually.

  • May increase a child’s willingness to adhere to treatment regimen

  • Helps children understand the illness

  • Avoids an accidental disclosure from occurring (e.g., child overhears caregiver discussing it)

  • May decrease behavior problems by decreasing stress

  • May improve social functioning and school performance by decreasing stress

www.hivguidelines.org


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How does disclosure promote a positive adjustment to living with HIV infection?

  • Provides developmentally appropriate and truthful explanations of the disease

  • Validates the child’s concerns

  • Clarifies misconceptions

  • Provides ongoing support

www.hivguidelines.org


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When Should the Disclosure Process Begin? with HIV infection?

  • Discussions between the clinical team and caregivers should begin early in the patient’s childhood

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages disclosure of HIV infection status to school-aged children

  • Whenever possible, disclosure should occur when child is clinically and emotionally stable and caregiver is ready

www.hivguidelines.org


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Timing of Disclosure with HIV infection?

Will depend on:

  • Caregiver’s acknowledgment of disease and readiness to disclose

  • Child’s cognitive skills and emotional maturity (including ability to maintain confidentiality)

    Disclosure process should not be rushed, but timing of disclosure becomes more pressing as child nears adolescence.

www.hivguidelines.org



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www.hivguidelines.org


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Discuss the following with caregivers on an ongoing basis: caregivers to disclose HIV diagnosis to child

  • Caregivers’ concerns about disclosure

  • The importance of ongoing communication with child regarding health issues

  • Benefits and risks of disclosing the diagnosis of HIV infection to child

  • Potential harm that can result from long-term nondisclosure

www.hivguidelines.org


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Common Reasons Why Caregivers are Reluctant to Disclose HIV to Children

  • Fear that child will inappropriately disclose HIV status

  • Fear of stigma, rejection, and loss of support by family/community

  • Desire to protect child from worrying about future

  • Possibility that the burden of learning of HIV status will lead to depression or other mental health issues

  • Feelings of guilt and shame may prevent HIV-infected caregivers from disclosing their own infection to their child

  • Caregivers may have adopted child and not yet disclosed adoptive status

www.hivguidelines.org


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What to do when caregivers are reluctant to disclose? to Children

  • Respect caregivers’ reasons for fearing or resisting disclosure and attempt to understand the factors associated with the reluctance

  • Validation of caregivers’ concerns can foster a partnership and prevent the development of an adversarial relationship between the members of the healthcare team and caregivers

  • Collaborate with caregivers to develop a plan that addresses individual concerns

  • Referrals for counseling may be necessary

www.hivguidelines.org


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Strategies to Facilitate Caregiver Readiness to Disclose HIV Diagnosis to Their Children

www.hivguidelines.org


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www.hivguidelines.org Diagnosis to Their Children


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www.hivguidelines.org Diagnosis to Their Children


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www.hivguidelines.org Diagnosis to Their Children


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www.hivguidelines.org Diagnosis to Their Children


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www.hivguidelines.org Diagnosis to Their Children


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Individualizing the Disclosure Plan Diagnosis to Their Children


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Factors to Consider When Developing an Individualized Disclosure Plan

  • Child’s age, cognitive ability, and developmental understanding of illness and mortality

  • What child has already been told and what child already knows about medications or doctor visits

  • Clinical status of child

  • Other disclosures that may need to be made (e.g., adoptive status*, paternity issues, or parental HIV diagnosis)

* Referral to a mental health professional should be considered when disclosing both adoptive status and HIV status

www.hivguidelines.org


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Factors to consider, Disclosure Plancontinued

  • Caregivers’ thoughts about disclosure

  • Cultural influences

  • Family/social circumstances

  • Anticipated response of child when learning diagnosis

  • Effect on HIV-infected and non-infected siblings

  • Types of support available to the child and family once disclosure occurs (e.g., counseling, peer support groups)

www.hivguidelines.org



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Aspects to Discuss with Caregivers Disclosure Plan

  • Importance of using developmentally appropriate words and language

  • Assessment of child’s coping skills, school functioning, and family support

  • General principles of disclosing HIV status

www.hivguidelines.org


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General Principles for Disclosing HIV Status Disclosure Plan

  • Date of disclosure should not coincide with other events such as birthdays, holidays, graduation, etc.

  • Use clear and developmentally appropriate explanations of the disease/diagnosis

  • Share the diagnosis quickly, do not delay or stall

  • Promote sharing of feelings, but also accept silence

  • Always allow the child to ask questions

  • Give developmentally appropriate educational materials

  • Both the healthcare team and caregivers should be involved throughout the process

www.hivguidelines.org


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Pre-disclosure Assessment Disclosure Plan

Assess the following prior to disclosure:

  • The child’s school functioning

  • Family and peer relationships and support

  • Interests and activities

  • Mood and behavior

www.hivguidelines.org



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AAP recommends that adolescents know their HIV status Disclosure Plan

“They should be fully informed to appreciate consequences for many aspects of their health, including sexual behavior. Adolescents also should be informed of their HIV status to make appropriate decisions about treatment and participation in clinical treatment trials. Physicians should also encourage adolescents to involve their parents in their care.”

www.hivguidelines.org


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Reasons why adolescents should know their HIV status Disclosure Plan

  • Provides an opportunity to assume responsibility for their own healthcare and well-being

  • May increase adherence

  • May prevent sexually active adolescents from unknowingly exposing others to HIV

www.hivguidelines.org


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Reasons why adolescents should know, Disclosure Plancontinued

  • May affect how clinician counsels about sexuality and risk-reduction

  • Builds a trusting therapeutic relationship between clinician and patient

  • Helps develop self-management skills, in preparation for eventual transition to adult care

www.hivguidelines.org


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Adolescents and Disclosure Disclosure Plan

  • Strive to ensure that adolescents are fully informed of their HIV status in a reasonable time frame

  • Caregivers who object to disclosing an adolescent’s HIV diagnosis should receive intensive support and services from the clinical team to address their concerns

  • Assess what adolescent already knows about their health/illness to guide future discussions

  • Provide opportunities for adolescent to discuss healthcare issues with clinical team independent of caregiver

www.hivguidelines.org


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As part of disclosure discussions, discuss the following with adolescents:

  • Help adolescents identify a supportive person to whom they can safely and comfortably discuss HIV-related issues

  • Address false or negative ideas that the adolescent may have about issues such as transmission, treatment, life expectancy, or reproductive options

  • Counsel about sexuality and risk-reduction

www.hivguidelines.org


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Post-Disclosure Assessments with adolescents:


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Key Point: with adolescents:

Disclosure is a process that does not end with telling an HIV-infected child the name of their illness or diagnosis

www.hivguidelines.org


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How is the child coping? with adolescents:

  • After the HIV diagnosis has been disclosed, follow-up calls or visits should be made to assess the child’s understanding of the illness and emotional and psychological adjustment

  • At every visit after disclosure, assess child/adolescent’s emotional well-being and functioning in the following areas:

    • School functioning

    • Family and peer relationships and support

    • Interests and activities

    • Mood and behavior

  • Work closely with caregivers to monitor for changes in functioning that may signify poor adjustment

www.hivguidelines.org


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Additional Support and Referrals with adolescents:

  • Additional support may be needed for children who demonstrate significant post-disclosure changes in behavior

  • Patients and families who have a difficult adjustment to HIV disclosure without progress over time should be referred for mental health services and additional support

www.hivguidelines.org


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Online Disclosure Resources with adolescents:

Resource for caregivers:

  • www.thewellproject.org/en_US/Womens_Center/HIV_and_Disclosure.jsp

    Resources for both caregivers and adolescents:

  • http://aidsinfonet.org/fact_sheets/view/204?lang=eng

  • www.myhivlife.com

    Books about HIV that can be ordered for children:

  • www.kidstalkaids.org/program/index.html

www.hivguidelines.org


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