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Study: Few
HIV-positive parents make plans for children’s care

Study: Few
HIV-positive parents make plans for children’s care

Few unmarried HIV-positive parents have made legal arrangements for who would care for their children if they die, the RAND Corporation reported Monday.

The nonprofit think tank analyzed 222 unmarried HIV-positive parents and found that:

-12% had not identified a legal guardian for their children;

-6% had identified a guardian but hadn't discussed their preference with the guardian;

-53% said the guardian had agreed to be the guardian;

-only 28% had prepared legal documentation of their guardianship choice.

Previous studies have found that children who lose a parent to HIV/AIDS suffer higher rates of depression, exhibit risky sexual behaviors, and have other emotional and behavioral problems. Parents who have a will or standby guardianship in place can help ease the trauma their children would suffer, reduce the chances that children would be separated from their siblings, or spend long periods of time in foster care.

"I think parents often assume that if anything happens to them, then grandma, an uncle, or a close friend who spends a lot of time with their children will become the guardian, but the legal system doesn't always function the way parents assume it will," Mark A. Schuster, senior author of the study and director of health promotion and disease prevention at RAND, said in a statement.

"All parents--not just parents with HIV or other, chronic illnesses--should consider a guardianship plan," said Burton Cowgill in a release. Cowgill is a researcher at the UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion and a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Health Services in the School of Public Health at UCLA. "By identifying who you want to be the guardian, you reduce the possibility of your children ending up with someone you don't want them to be with." (The Advocate)

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