Being a child you might have just found out that you have HIV, or maybe you have known for a while.
As you get a bit older, it is important to know more about HIV so that you can take care of yourself and know where to get help and support.
You may feel mixed up about being HIV positive or you may feel sad, angry or confused. Or you may feel OK about it.
Some children are told from a very young age that they have HIV and others are told when they are a bit older. It can be harder for people who find out when they are in their teens and lots of people like doctors and social workers think it is good to tell someone when they are still a child.
However you are feeling, this is normal and you shouldn’t be worried. If you can, tell someone you are close to at home how you are feeling. Also look at the Support tab on this page.
When you are told you have HIV you might want to tell people - your friends, for example. Before you do that, it can be a really good idea to talk to someone at home or someone you like at your clinic about who you want to tell. Unfortunately some people can be unkind to people who have HIV, and once you have told someone you cannot ‘un-tell’ them.
It is important that one of your parents or carers talks to you about what will happen at school. It might not be necessary to tell anyone at school that you have HIV, but if you have lots of time off for medical appointments it can be good for your parents or carers to talk to the head teacher. This is something you don’t need to worry about as the adults looking after you should decide the best thing to do.
If they do tell the head teacher, this doesn’t mean the other teachers or children will be told - it is your private information. You might feel like you want to tell your friends but it is best to talk to the adults looking after you about this first. Find out more about telling people you have HIV.
There are places that can support children with HIV. Body and Soul is a charity in London where they have groups for children and teenagers with HIV or who have a parent with HIV. This can be a really good place to talk freely about your HIV.
The staff who work there know all about HIV and are really good at talking to children about it. They also run special services for parents and carers so usually the whole family can go.
There is also an organisation called the Children's HIV Association (CHIVA) which provides support to children with HIV and their families.
If you are diagnosed with HIV while pregnant then you may need emotional support in coping with your diagnosis and information about transmission and treatments. Positively UK are a charity providing support to people living with HIV and can offer you friendly advice and support.
When you have HIV, it causes problems for your immune system, the part of your body that protects you from illnesses and helps you get better if you are ill. So this means that people with HIV are more likely to catch illnesses and infections.
The doctor you see will be looking at your blood to find out how much of a problem the HIV is causing. At some point you will need to take medicine every day to keep your immune system working well and keep the HIV under control.
This is a big deal for a lot of people because you will have to take the medicine every day for life. Although this might sound scary, it can be helpful to think of the medicine as a good thing which is keeping you well. It is true that sometimes people get side effects, which means someone might feel ill after taking it, but the medicine is getting more sophisticated and usually people find they can take it easily.
When you have HIV one of the most important things is to take your medicine every day. This is so the HIV stays under control and isn’t able to cause problems. If you are finding it hard to do this, it is best to tell someone at home or your doctor as there are things they can do to help with it.
You might be thinking about when you grow up. Will you be able to have a boyfriend or girlfriend or get married? Can you have sexual relationships, and can you have a baby one day?
The answer to all these things is yes! People with HIV can do all the things that people who don’t have HIV can.
It's really good to understand more about how sex works when you have HIV and this is something you’ll be able to get more support with when you’re older. If you feel shy about this you can ask the nurse or doctor at your clinic.
Having HIV doesn’t need to hold you back. You can still travel, although there are some places where you can’t move to permanently. You can also have a career, although if you want to be a nurse or doctor there are a few restrictions on what you can do. You can still follow your dreams.
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This article was last reviewed on
by A. Latty
Date due for the next review: 30/9/2014
Content Author: K. Wells
Current Owner: K. Wells
Mother-to-baby transmission NAM (2010)
New guidance on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV World Health Organisation (2010)
HIV transmission NAM
Many patients diagnosed with HIV today will have normal life expectancies, European studies find NAM (2010)
Talking to children about their health and HIV diagnosis CHIVA (2009)
HIV and the Immune System NAM (2009)
Taking Drugs On Time NAM (2009)
Travel restrictions NAM
Various gay men discuss how they reacted when they found out they were HIV positive
George House Trust
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Work Life - Your Work, Your Health, Your Life
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
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