HIV and Parenting
With advances in modern medicine and therapies, babies who have had HIV passed on to them from their parents are surviving into young adulthood. This is a big step forward, indeed; not too long ago, HIV would have claimed their lives well before they reached their teens.
While this is good news and shows definite progress in the battle against the virus, there are several social implications. Researchers interviewed young adults aged 18-23 who had perinatally-acquired HIV (or PAH). What they found was a natural desire to have a family and raise children of their own. Certain issues regarding such choices, however, make these types of decisions difficult. Therefore, these young people are looking for answers as to how to go about planning their futures.
Each person interviewed expressed the desire to have children. While this was what they wanted, concerns over how to tell their partners about HIV, and eventually their children, posed a dilemma. They wanted families of their own but were unsure as to how to go about it. Especially weighing on them was the risk of transmitting HIV to their children. Most were worried about the long-term effects on their relationships, both with potential partners and their children.
Another area of consideration researchers took into account was cultural background. For example, certain African cultures place importance on having children, and those with PAH naturally want their own families and are also pressured socially to do so. In light of this, researchers see an urgent need for education, emphasizing information on communication and making filial and relationship decisions.
The medical advances against HIV have given many people a chance at a normal life and bright future. Along with this, though, comes a new set of issues. Finding a way to impart important information on making good life decisions is what researchers and physicians are hoping to look into.