Objective: To examine the benefits/barriers for HIV positive parents of communicating their status to seronegative children in low/middle income countries in order to inform policy and practice in Jamaica.
Methods: The authors carried out a systematic search of published literature on parental disclosure in low/middle income countries written in the English language between January 1991 and September 2012, identified from databases: Academic Search Complete, CINAHL, EBSCOhostEJS, Gender Studies Database, Health Policy Reference Centre, MEDLINE (includes the West Indian Medical Journal), PsycARTICLES , PsycINFO , SocINDEX, AMED, Global Health, Embase, Social Policy and Practice, Maternity and Infant Care. The authors also refer to articles on parental disclosure in highincome countries which appeared in peer-reviewed journals and conducted a local search in Jamaica for articles on HIV disclosure in the Caribbean region.
Results: Global estimates of parental disclosure rates were 20−97% in high income countries and 11−44% in resource constrained countries. Mean age of children at disclosure was age 10−18 years. Mothers were more likely to disclose to older children, female children, and when they had strong support networks. Barriers included fear of stigma/discrimination, not knowing how to tell the child, fear of the child disclosing to others and believing a child was too young to cope. Of the 16 articles identified which met the search criteria, 10 studies and three reviews noted positive benefits of disclosure on parental health and the parent-child relationship.
Conclusion: Significant differences in attitudes and rates of maternal disclosure in low/middle income countries compared to high income countries reflect the impact of cultural, structural, economic and social factors and highlight the need for culturally-specific research. Implications for policy and practice in Jamaica are discussed.