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Background: Many HIV-affected families have both parent(s) and child(ren) infected.HIV disclosure to children continues to be a great global challenge for HIV-positive parents and healthcare professionals (HCPs); parents and HCPs differ on how and when to disclose to children. Methods: Six HCPs including a physician, clinical officer, psychologist, registered nurse, social worker, and a peer educator participated in a larger qualitative phenomenological study conducted to describe the lived experiences of HIV-positive parents and their children during the disclosure process in Kenya. Each HCP underwent an in-depth, semi-structured interview; transcribed data were analyzed using the modified Van Kaam method in NVivo8. Results: Despite HCPs providing parents with regular advice on the benefits of HIV disclosure, fear of stigma, discrimination, and disclosure consequences caused parents to delay disclosure of a parent’s and/or a child’s illness to their HIV-negative and positive children respectively for lengthy periods. While awaiting parental consent for full disclosure, HCPs were forced to provide age-appropriate disease-related information to children. HCPs preference however, was to fully disclose to children in their parents’ presence at the clinic, when children started asking questions and/or displayed maturity and understanding of the illness. Conclusion: Parents are known to prefer disclosing to their children at a time and place of their choosing. Conversely, it appears that HCPs may prefer to disclose to children when they judge the time as being right. For favorable disclosure outcomes, further studies are needed to reconcile the most suitable timing, setting, and person to disclose to HIV-positive and negative children.
This oral presentation was made at the 2015 American Public Health Association (APHA) Meeting.