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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


Adjustment and Development for Children of HIV-Positive Mothers


Monthly Summaries of Nursing Research

from Medscape Nurses

Hough ES, Brumitt G, Templin T, Saltz E, Mood D. A model of mother-child coping and adjustment to HIV. Social Science & Medicine. 2003;56:643-655.

Urban, African American women comprise an increasing proportion of newly reported AIDS cases. Many of these women are single mothers, and their children, even if not HIV-positive, are at high risk for psychosocial problems such as aggression, delinquency, anxiety, and depression. Researchers examined the relationship between mother's HIV status and childhood stress and behavior for 147 mother-child dyads. Among the mothers, 86% were African American, and 97% received public assistance. While the mothers had been living with HIV an average of just over 5 years, 57% were asymptomatic, 18% were symptomatic, and 25% had AIDS. The mothers had two distinct coping styles: active, addressing their problems and making meaning in their lives, and passive, reducing their tension through crying, yelling, binge eating, sleeping, and daydreaming. Children of HIV-positive mothers displayed internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems that were similar to a control group of children referred to outpatient clinics for counseling. Significant contributing factors included maternal HIV-associated stressors, maternal emotional distress, child social support, and child and maternal coping. These results suggest that children of HIV-positive mothers should be routinely assessed for behavioral and adjustment problems, and that both mothers and their children may need interventions to build positive coping styles.