Healthcare Providers' Perspectives on Discussing HIV Status with Infected Children

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The disclosure of HIV status to infected children has received relatively little attention to date in sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted 40 semi-structured interviews with healthcare providers working in a large paediatric HIV clinic in Cape Town, South Africa regarding attitudes and experiences around discussing HIV with infected children. Most providers felt that the optimal age for general discussions about an HIV-infected child's health should happen around age 6, but that specific discussions regarding HIV infection should be delayed to a median of 10 years. Though most providers said that primary caregivers were the most appropriate individuals to lead disclosure discussions, there were strong views that caregivers require support from healthcare providers. These findings indicate the complexities involved in the disclosure of HIV status to infected children, and point to the need for interventions to support caregivers and providers in disclosure discussions.

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