Faculty Publications

Publication Date



Child Psychology | Maternal and Child Health


HIV-infected mothers face the challenging decision of whether to disclose their serostatus to their children. From the perspective of both mother and child, we explored the process of disclosure, providing descriptive information and examining the relationships among disclosure, demographic variables, and child adjustment. Participants were 23 mothers and one of their noninfected children (9 to 16 years of age). Sixty-one percent of mothers disclosed. Consistent with previous research, disclosure was not related to child functioning. However, children sworn to secrecy demonstrated lower social competence and more externalizing problems. Differential disclosure, which occurred in one-third of the families, was associated with higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Finally, knowing more than mothers had themselves disclosed was related to child maladjustment across multiple domains. Clinical implications and the need for future research are considered.

Document Type

Accepted Version


This article is the author-created version that incorporates referee comments. It is the accepted-for-publication version. The content of this version may be identical to the published version (the version of record) save for value-added elements provided by the publisher (e.g., copy editing, layout changes, or branding consistent with the rest of the publication).


The final publication is available at http://www.springerlink.com

Original Citation

Tanya L. Tompkins
Disclosure of maternal HIV status to children: To tell or not to tell . . . that is the question.
Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2007, volume 16, issue 6, pages 773-788



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