Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science


children & youth, families & family life, Human Immunodeficiency Virus--HIV, nursing, parents & parenting, Psychotherapy


With improvements in diagnosis and care, children with HIV infection are living long enough to reach school age, a stage when they are capable of perceiving the stigmatizing, life-threatening nature of their illness. Many parents desire to protect them from this knowledge by avoiding an open dialogue about their disease, even though pediatric professionals advocate disclosure. Research-based guidelines about the risks and benefits of telling, however, have not been available in the literature. Using an innovative, qualitative approach through the use of grounded theory and projective drawing techniques, this investigation sought to explore what parents said about the illness and how children responded socially and emotionally. Data were obtained from 13 parents and 12 school age children with HIV. Although most of the children were informed about the illness by the time of the study, their drawings and conversations suggest they did not perceive that communication and support were available within their families. Instead, signs of social isolation, poor self-esteem, and severe emotional distress were found. The parents' readiness to tell determined the interval between diagnosis and disclosure, which was typically 4 years. These findings have implications for nursing practice, research, and education.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons