Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 77, Issue 4, pp 723–734 | Cite as

Reasons given for disclosure of maternal HIV status to children

  • Daniel J. PilowskyEmail author
  • Nancy Sohler
  • Ezra Susser
Original Article


The purpose of this investigation was to ascertain the reasons given by mothers diagnosed with AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) for disclosing or not disclosing their HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) status to their children, a dilemma faced by most HIV-infected parents and those who counsel them. We interviewed 29 mothers residing in one of two New York City facilities that provide housing and medical treatment for adults with AIDS. The majority of these mothers do not live with their children, but all had recent face-to-face contact with them. The two reasons most frequently considered important for disclosing to children were that disclosure was the “right thing to do” and the need to make arrangements for children's future in case of maternal death or incapacity. The reason most frequently considered important for not disclosing was maternal concern about discussing death and dying with children. These findings have significant implications for counseling of HIV-positive parents.

Key Words

Child welfare Children Disclosure HIV Mothers 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel J. Pilowsky
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nancy Sohler
    • 2
  • Ezra Susser
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Physicians and Surgeons Department of PsychiatryNew York State Psychiatric Institute and from Columbia UniversityNew York
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyJoseph L. Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia UniversityNew York

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