Socio-demographic, clinical, and psychosocial factors associated with primary caregivers’ decisions regarding HIV disclosure to their child aged between 6 and 12 years living with HIV in Malawi
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that children living with HIV should be informed about their HIV status within the ages of 6 to 12 years using age-appropriate resources. The aim of this study was to assess the socio-demographic, clinical and psychosocial factors associated with primary caregivers’ decisions to disclose HIV to children living with HIV aged 6 to 12 years in Malawi. A cross-sectional study of 429 primary caregivers of children living with HIV were systematically recruited from all regions of the country. Information on HIV disclosure, family and child socio-demographic characteristics, child clinical characteristics, and child and family psychosocial characteristics was collected using validated instruments. Logistic regression was used to analyse data. The prevalence of nondisclosure of HIV status to children was 64 per cent. Concerns about the child’s inability to cope with the news (29%), a lack of knowledge on how to disclose HIV status (19%), and fear of stigma and discrimination (17%) were the main reasons for non-disclosure. On multivariate analysis, the odds of non-disclosure were higher among primary caregivers who were farmers (aOR 3.0; 95% CI: 1.1–8.4), in younger children (6–8 years) (aOR 4.1; 95% CI: 2.3–7.4), in children who were in WHO HIV clinical stage one (aOR 3.8; 95% CI: 1.4–10.2), and in children who were not asking why they were taking ARVs (aOR 2.9; 95% CI: 1.8–4.8). On the other hand, nondisclosure of HIV status was less likely in underweight children (aOR 0.6; 95% CI: 0.3–0.9). Many children living with HIV in Malawi are unaware of their HIV status. Non-disclosure is associated with a number of clinical and demographic characteristics. The findings highlight the need to provide guidance and support to primary caregivers to help them to effectively disclose HIV status to their children.
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