14.05.2013 - UNESCO Office in Moscow

Empowering parents to care for HIV-positive children

On Sunday 19 May 2013, for the 30th time, people worldwide will commemorate International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. This year it will be held under the theme “In Solidarity”. In order to support people living with HIV, their friends and relatives, and to commemorate those who have passed away, the May issue of PSYCHOLOGIES* magazine tells the story of Sergei, who is raising a 9-year-old daughter living with HIV.

The TEENS’ Territory section established in PSYCHOLOGIES in collaboration with the UNESCO Office in Moscow invited two experts on HIV - Anna Zagaynova, an epidemiologist and the founder of one of the first Russian social and psychological support services for families affected by HIV, and Elena Berezina, a psychotherapist specialized in supporting children living with HIV- to write about HIV and AIDS in children. Anna and Elena explain how to prevent HIV transmission from a parent to a child, how to raise a child living with HIV, and how to tell him/her about the diagnosis. They also discuss how to help children living with HIV socialize with peers in school and in the community, and how to protect them from discrimination.

"A child with HIV can have a normal life. [...] HIV-positive children do not pose any danger to others at home, in the school, in joint activities, or while eating together or through social interaction."- says Anna Zagaynova, emphasizing that like any other child, an HIV-positive child needs physical and emotional contact with a caring and loving adult.

Elena Berezina adds that it is important to tell children about their diagnosis: "Very often parents are afraid to tell their HIV-positive children about their diagnosis, assuming that it will harm them. On the contrary, keeping the diagnosis secret could lead to the child’s alienation and the development of mistrust of parents and caregivers ..."

In Russia and other countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 16 people are infected with HIV every hour and 10 people die from AIDS. In these countries over the last 15 years HIV-positive parents gave birth to more than 130,000 children most of whom are HIV-negative thanks to successful mother-to-child prevention programmes. However, six out of every thousand young people aged 15-24 are living with HIV.

The TEENS’ Territory section helps parents across the region to better understand their children, maintain good relationships with them, support them to cope with the challenges of growing-up, and to avoid mistakes and make healthy choices. Since July 2012, more than 40 articles have been published in the TEENS’ Territory section to empower parents to talk to children about values, responsibility, relationships, and healthy sexuality and healthy living. 

To access TEEN’S Territory please click here.

* PSYCHOLOGIES magazine is published monthly in nine countries in English, French, Flemish, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Greek, Chinese and Russian. Over 600 000 people read PSYCHOLOGIES in Russian.

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