The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is extremely special, especially when the interaction goes beyond holiday visits and occasional calls. Grandparents often times form a closeness and bond with their grandchildren that is empowering and enriching. Their child-rearing experience often allows them to cultivate a relationship with their grandchildren that is steeped in wisdom and filled with mutual appreciation and respect. This is even more the case as an increasing number of American households have become multigenerational. This is particularly true for diverse communities, including Latinos: 22% of Hispanic households are multigenerational, compared to 13% of White households.
This grandparent-grandchild bond allows older adults to address a variety of issues that might be touchy, embarrassing, and even scary for grandchildren to discuss with their parents, including HIV/AIDS. National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) is a good opportunity for grandparents to raise HIV awareness, as well as encourage their grandchildren to act against AIDS. Here are three things grandparents can do to empower their grandchildren to raise awareness and get involved in the fight against AIDS on NYHAAD and every day of the year:
1. Schedule a joint annual check-up that includes an HIV test.
Preventive health care is important at any age. Grandparents can schedule their annual check-ups with their grandchildren, and ensure they both get tested for HIV. (The CDC estimates that by 2015, 50% of people living with HIV/AIDS will be 50 years of age or older.)
2. Have an open discussion on HIV/AIDS.
Myths, stigma, and misinformation encourage the spread of HIV. Grandparents should sit down with their grandchildren and have an open discussion about what HIV/AIDS is, how the virus is transmitted, and how to reduce risk of infection. Reliable sources of information include:
3. Encourage grandchildren to talk HIV with their peers.
Grandparents should empower their grandchildren to dispel myths, eliminate stigma, and set the record straight on HIV/AIDS with their peers by leveraging personal and social networks. The more we raise awareness and shed light on HIV/AIDS, the closer we get toward the goal of achieving an “AIDS-free generation”— a future time in which no person, regardless of age, race, or gender, contracts HIV.
NHCOA is a proud Hispanic/Latino partner of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), an effort to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities.