Françoise Weil-Halpern : How to become an adolescent in an hiv infected family

The surge of HIV in the paediatric field shattered the life and future of families. It followed a reverse path with reference to the progress that could have been made in the approach of the consequences of separations, death and illnesses of any one relative, parent or child. It forced us to have new conceptions about life such as : the desire of a child, giving birth and life, bringing up, protecting, guiding, keeping alive, helping to live and helping to die. The mother, one of the children, sometimes the father, all wage a merciless war against the illness, against discrimination, isolation, the secret, pain, fear of death. Confronted to such an earthquake, the author questioned herself on what those infected children may or may not feel at adolescence. Through these clinical vignettes and what children say about themselves, the author tries to show what a tragical ordeal they are confronted to. How do they survive to such a slaughter ? How do they or don’t they achieve theyr task of mourning ? What memories do they keep or are they allowed to keep about their fathers, and/or their mothers ? What kind of personal history will they build therefrom ? What kind of guilt is their stake ? So many questions for which sometimes there are no specific answers ? The recent progress in the therapeutic field brought changes that are both synonyms of hope and of pain.