There have been cases where children have been alienated and disowned by their parents and thrown out of home. The parents may often feel ashamed and that it brings shame to the family, and that others will judge them harshly. What is most disturbing is the number of adolescents who go through a diagnosis and treatment alone, lacking the support of a parent or loved one.

Many of the adolescents that are diagnosed do not have a traditional support system. For those that do, it is an extremely difficult time for them to suddenly approach their parents to deliver the news.

Young people who access HIV testing should be acknowledged for taking responsibility for their health care, yet too many times when they are diagnosed with an infection, their support system is absent.

It is hoped that as a parent, if faced with this daunting challenge, will stand by and support one’s child no matter what. Research indicates that young people rate parents as their top source of information regarding sex. Knowing this, it’s understandable if parents feel that they have failed if their child contracts HIV. But parents who support and become partners in their child’s HIV care, will become a foundation for their child as he or she learns how to manage a life affected by the virus.

Young people are urged to make lifelong goals and work toward their personal dreams. It is best to tell a young person that they are not really living with HIV, but that the virus is living with them. They must be assured that they are going to attain their life’s goals; that the virus is just coming along for the ride. This message is easier to believe with the reassurance of a parent.

The parent should assist their infected child by guiding them to live a clean and healthy life. They may get involved by assisting their child with obtaining their medication and making sure that it is taken daily. They should also prepare healthy meals and encourage their child to eat healthily and to engage in exercise so that they remain strong and healthy. They should always encourage open communication and assist the child in finding counselling and support groups.

Not all children with HIV will have symptoms, and those that do won’t have exactly the same ones. Symptoms can vary from one age to another.

It is essential that the teenager consults with a counsellor on a regular basis to deal with the various stages and obstacles that will need to be addressed. Some of the matters that the teenager or adolescent will need to confront will be accepting their diagnosis, sharing their status, dealing with the reactions of people that may not always be favourable, feelings of depression and rejection as well as lifestyle changes.

The infected teen will need to share their status with the person with whom they were intimate. This will also be a sensitive area that will call for support from both the councillor and the parent. Along the way, as obstacles may be encountered, knowing that parents will always be there as an assuring support system, is very comforting for the teen.

The parent will need to gain knowledge as to how to care for their teen in times of illness and what hygienic practices to employ.With the religious intake of ARV’s and a loving support system, teens with HIV can grow up to live long, fulfilling lives.