A young carer is someone aged 18 or under who helps to look after a relative who has a disability, illness, mental health condition or drug/alcohol problems. Most young carers look after one of their parents or care for a brother or sister. They do jobs in and around the home, like cooking, cleaning, or helping someone to get dressed and move around. It can also mean that you take on a lot of responsibility and worry, like reminding your parent about taking their medication or helping them get to hospital appointments.

If you are caring for a family member, you can get help and support from young carers’ organisations. They arrange events and social activities where what you all share is that you are carers, not what illness or disability the person you are caring for has.

You can always talk about the reason why you care for a family member. Someone who has HIV doesn’t always need help and care – many people living with HIV live full healthy lives. But if, for example, your mum gets very depressed and stays in bed a lot, you may need support because of her depression (sometimes called a mental health problem), not because she has HIV. That is why you would need support from young carers, not because your mum is living with HIV.

There is online support available through YCNet and you can find your local young carers service at young carer.