It’s been four months since I came across a certain incident and I have been thinking about it and thought it wise to share it with you today.
I met a child who was severely beaten up by his mother and surprisingly it seemed there was no apparent reason. The child had bruises all over his body and he was going towards a clinic. Several things got my attention, firstly the bruises and then a health passport he was carrying and the fact that he was alone in such a terrible condition he was in.
The aforementioned factors commanded my attention and I was eager to establish a few facts. I just found myself asking the kid some questions and one shocking truth I got from his responses was that the perpetrator was his own mother. I mumbled, ‘how could she?’
To my surprise the child told me that he was not going to the hospital because he was beaten up but it was the doctor who told him to go and get some medical drugs on that particular date. The kid further expressed dismay over the doctor’s insistence on his going to the hospital to correct the drugs which he takes on a daily basis as if he is sick.
The kid explained to me that his mother was very furious and threatened to kill him when he showed her where the doctor scribbled something for him to show her. The little boy was very eager and impatient to know what the doctor wrote that made his mother angry up to an extent of beating him up.
The little boy humbly asked me to read out for him but I ignored considering the fact that it was his privacy. Even though he insisted, I had to respect his privacy but I decided to meet his mother no matter how far the kid’s home might be.
‘Please guardian disclose the status to the child’ were the words that were scribbled on the left hand side margin of a page somewhere inside the kid’s health passport. The mother had some tears in her eyes as she was showing me the message. Her face registered a lot of sorrow and attempts to hide her dilemma were futile. I realized that the parent was failing to tell the boy that he was HIV positive and instead she was playing hide and seek thereby making the situation worse.
But the time is now that parents and guardians should know that keeping such information from children does more harm than good. Its time parents and guardians of children who were born with HIV to be open with the kids and provide them with the information in simple terms that they can understand. We should have confidence in the child’s ability to cope and understand.
If the parent can’t manage to disclose alone, there may be counselors or social workers available who can help you disclose their status; these people are very experienced with regard to disclosure and can offer valuable information that will help the child.
A kid who knows his/her status can easily avoid infecting others…