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Children's Voices: Living With HIV

Mawn, Barbara Ellen PhD, RN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: November-December 2011 - Volume 36 - Issue 6 - p 368–372
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e31822e59f9
Feature Article

Purpose To present the findings from a qualitative study that explored living with pediatric HIV from the children's perspectives.

Study Design and Methods The researcher conducted face-to-face interviews with seven HIV-positive children in this nested, phenomenological study. The children's parents were enrolled at the same time in a longitudinal qualitative study, which focused on raising a child with HIV. The children, ages 9 to 13, were interviewed once in the context of their homes. The researcher identified themes based on interview transcriptions.

Results Four major themes emerged: a positive self-perception; varying levels of understanding about HIV; a lack of concern and/or memory about the disclosure process; and an awareness to keep the diagnosis private.

Clinical Implications Nurses who counsel children living with HIV should be aware that the self-perception of these children varies and may not be focused on their chronic illness. The interpretation of the disclosure process and the understanding of the diagnosis itself may be impacted by memory and developmental changes over time.

Sometimes they try to forget they have it, but reality is hard to forget.

Barbara Ellen Mawn is a Professor and PhD Program Director, Department of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA. She can be reached via e-mail at

The author declares no conflict of interest.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.