AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 17, Issue 7, pp 2554–2574 | Cite as

Impact of Parental HIV/AIDS on Children’s Psychological Well-Being: A Systematic Review of Global Literature

  • Peilian ChiEmail author
  • Xiaoming Li
Substantive Review


This review examines the global literature regarding the impact of parental HIV/AIDS on children’s psychological well-being. Fifty one articles reporting quantitative data from a total of 30 studies were retrieved and reviewed. Findings were mixed but tended to show that AIDS orphans and vulnerable children had poorer psychological well-being in comparison with children from HIV-free families or children orphaned by other causes. Limited longitudinal studies suggested a negative effect of parental HIV on children’s psychological well-being in an early stage of parental HIV-related illness and such effects persisted through the course of parental illness and after parental death. HIV-related stressful life events, stigma, and poverty were risk factors that might aggravate the negative impact of parental HIV/AIDS on children. Individual coping skills, trusting relationship with caregivers and social support were suggested to protect children against the negative effects of parental HIV/AIDS. This review underlines the vulnerability of children affected by HIV/AIDS. Culturally and developmentally appropriate evidence-based interventions are urgently needed to promote the psychological well-being of children affected by HIV/AIDS.


Parental HIV/AIDS Children affected by HIV/AIDS Psychological well-being Literature review 



The study was supported by NIH Research Grant R01MH76488 and R01NR13466 by the National Institute of Nursing Research and National Institute of Mental Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily present the official views of the National Institute of Nursing Research and National Institute of Mental Health. The authors wish to thank Joanne Zwemer for help in preparing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carman and Ann Adams Department of Pediatrics, Prevention Research Center, School of MedicineWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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