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To Sam

Dad is HIV positive

I have just discovered that my dad is HIV positive - and has been for ages, but he hasn't told me.

I don't know if my Mum knows.

I am really shocked and confused and don't really know what to do or feel.

Can it still get worse if he is taking the medication for it??

Is he going to have a shorter life than others?

so many questions !!!!

Ask Sam


Hi there,

It can be shocking to hear unexpected news about someone you care about, especially when it's about problems that affect their health. HIV is a serious illness but with the right treatment it's possible for someone to live a relatively normal life. When a friend or family member tells you about a health problem that they've had for a while, it's important to remember that they're still the person you've known all along. You may have questions and it's okay to talk about how you feel.

HIV is a disease that affects your immune system, which is what keeps you from getting sick or ill. HIV is passed on to other people through different body fluids such as blood, semen or vaginal fluids. It's usually spread when people have unprotected sex or sometimes through blood transfusions or sharing needles with someone who's infected, for example when taking drugs. It's not something you can catch very easily and you can't get it through sweat or saliva.

If HIV is treated early enough someone can live for as long as they would without being unwell. Treatment usually involves taking medication to stop the HIV virus from multiplying so it does less damage to the immune system. The fact that your dad has had HIV for a long time and you didn't realise shows just how normal a life someone can lead.

For some people, if the virus is caught late, then HIV can cause someone to develop AIDS. This will make it harder for them to fight off infections and they can more easily get diseases like cancer. Most people with HIV in the UK don't develop AIDS and live normal lives, like your dad has been.

It's okay to feel shocked and to have questions. The best thing to do would be to be honest and talk to your dad about it. You can ask him what it's like living with HIV and what his doctors have told him. Being open and asking questions is always okay. If your dad doesn't feel able to talk about it then you can always talk to Childline and we can help you get the support you need.

Thanks for your letter.

Take care.


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