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Answering their questions about AIDS

Three Rules to Follow

  1. Listen carefully
  2. Give a simple answer
  3. Check to see if they understand

Children will ask questions about AIDS/HIV and sex for different reasons. Thinking about why the question is being asked will help in giving a good answer.

1. General curiosity and seeking information.

These questions are fairly simple and usually have been caused by a natural curiosity.

Examples include: "What is AIDS?", "How do people get AIDS", "Why do people die?"

Answer in a factual way, providing information according to the age of the child or teen.

2. Worry for his/her welfare.

Many children may be frightened by the things they hear about AIDS on the news or from other people.

Examples might include: "Do children get AIDS?", or "What kind of people get AIDS?"

Answer by describing how the disease is spread. Young children should be reassured that they are probably not at risk for AIDS. Teens should be told how to avoid risky behaviors.

3. Worry about their parents, family or friends.

Family members are very important to young children. They hear that people get AIDS by having sex or using drugs, and perhaps they know that their parents have sex or use alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. An example may include: "Mommy, will you get AIDS?" or "What is safer sex?" Answer by describing how the disease is spread.

Teenagers may be concerned about friends or family members. Teenagers can be asked to comment on the different risk behaviors and whether they apply to some of their friends.

4. Seeking reactions from adults.

It is hard to talk about AIDS and sometimes young people will ask questions to see how adults react.

Examples include: asking about their parents' behavior, using bad words, or asking questions which "label" people.

Answer by first asking questions about the question. For example: "Do only fags get AIDS?" Answer: "What do you mean by fags?" or "Why do you use that word?"

Or, you can reword the question using better words. For example: "Do only homosexuals get AIDS?" Then answer: "No, heterosexuals also get AIDS."

Some Common Questions Asked about AIDS/HIV

  • What is AIDS?
  • What are injection drugs?
  • What is a germ?
  • What is sharing needles?
  • What is sex?
  • Can my cat get AIDS?
  • How do you get AIDS?
  • Is it safe to play with someone who has AIDS?
  • Does AIDS hurt?
  • What is a condom?
  • What does GAY mean?
  • How do you know if you have AIDS?
  • What is a blood transfusion?
  • Do bad people get AIDS?
  • Do children get AIDS?
  • Can people with AIDS get better?
  • Can AIDS be cured?
  • What is semen?
  • How many people have AIDS?

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