HIV support services are likely to be the first people that a family affected by HIV turn to for help

Young male with two project workers at table

Whether you work in the statutory or voluntary sector, with adults or children, you may be the only person who is able to ask the right questions to find out if a child is taking on caring responsibilities within these families. Timely intervention could prevent a child undertaking inappropriate levels of care and could offer much valued support for children in their caring roles.

Many children and young people affected by HIV may not be aware that their parent, relative or sibling is HIV positive, although they may still have significant caring responsibilities and worry about their parent or relative’s illness.  Young people’s lack of knowledge about the nature of their parent or relative’s illness should not lead to a lack of support, as services should be provided to support families with the impacts of secondary health problems and young people’s caring role within the family.

Refugee and asylum seeking families are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion and isolation. They may be very worried about seeking support or services from outside the family due to a fear of deportation. All services should be integrated, inclusive and responsive to the needs of all families including those from a refugee and asylum seeking background. Specialist information and resources to support these families is available from a range of voluntary and statutory services.

It can be distressing and it is unacceptable for children to be asked to interpret­ personal and inappropriate information for family members. Service providers must ensure that any need for professional interpreters is properly addressed (Department of Health, 1999). Families are entitled to interpreting services and google translate can be used to prevent children taking on translation roles.

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